Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will be travelling to Turkey on an official visit in mid-September, according to a source familiar with plans for the trip.
Items to be discussed include the crisis in Syria. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has reluctantly come to support a military response to an apparent chemical weapons attack against civilians by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces.
Turkey’s support for strikes is firm. A Turkish diplomatic source points to the steep financial cost the war has placed on Turkey, which is housing thousands of Syrian refugees; Syria’s downing of a Turkish warplane; and the deaths last year of five Turkish civilians due to shelling from Syria. The source describes Turkey’s earlier hope that the Assad regime’s behaviour could be moderated through economic engagement as “naive.”
Baird and his Turkish hosts will also likely discuss a potential Canada-Turkey free trade agreement. Exploratory discussions have already taken place but are in the very early stages.
A spokesperson for Baird could not confirm the minister’s trip.