Turkey wants peace to prevail in the region: Erdoğan on the Ukraine crisis

Turkey aims for peace to prevail and hopes that no further unfavorable developments will occur in the region, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday, referring to the ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine.

“A psychology of war in the region upsets us, as a country that has ties to both sides. Our hope is to reunite Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy as soon as possible and to ensure that they have a face-to-face meeting,” Erdoğan said after a joint press conference with Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele in the Turkish capital Ankara, during which they signed six agreements as the two countries pledged to strengthen their ties in several areas.

Erdoğan stressed that he attaches great importance to both his visit to Ukraine and Putin’s visit to Turkey.

“I will visit Ukraine early next month,” he noted.

Stressing that Russia invading Ukraine is not a realistic scenario, Erdoğan warned on Tuesday that the region could not endure another war.

Turkey is ready to play a role in de-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın also said on Tuesday, announcing that Erdoğan will travel to Kyiv for talks with Zelensky in a few weeks. .

Russia will welcome the efforts only if Turkish partners can encourage Ukraine to implement the Minsk Protocol, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in his initial response on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine are open to the idea of ​​Turkey playing a role in easing tensions between the two countries, as proposed by Ankara in November, Turkish diplomatic sources said Thursday.

Turkey is discussing the possibility of hosting the next meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, during which Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region will be discussed, the sources said. to journalists on condition of anonymity.

No date has been set for a meeting in Istanbul, but representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE Minsk Group and Donbass are expected to attend, they said, adding that the group will would meet “frequently”.

According to the Kremlin, however, Peskov told the RIA news agency that there had been no preparations for such a meeting.

“There is nothing about this meeting,” he said, adding that Ukraine has failed to honor the Minsk agreements on settling the conflict with pro-Moscow rebels amid weapons. supplied to Ukraine.

Western countries say they fear Russia is planning a new offensive against Ukraine after massing tens of thousands of troops near the border in recent months. Moscow denies planning an attack.

A source said Russia and Ukraine responded positively to Turkey’s mediation offer.

Turkey, a NATO member, enjoys friendly relations with Kiev and Moscow, but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Ukraine welcomed Turkey’s involvement in negotiations with Russia. Zelenskyy said in November that he had asked Erdoğan to forward a list of prisoners to Putin for a possible prisoner exchange, although the exchange never took place.

Kiev also bought Turkish drones for possible use against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, angering Moscow, and agreed with Ankara to manufacture the drones locally this year.

Ankara said it was ready to mediate in the crisis two months ago, an offer Moscow rejected at the time. He also said sanctions against Russia were not a solution, although the European Union on Thursday threatened “massive” sanctions in the event of an attack.

Speaking on Turkey’s proposals, Peskov told reporters on Wednesday: “If our Turkish partners can influence Kyiv and the implementation of previously reached agreements, that could only be welcome.”

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Christi C. Elwood