July 20, 2024

Recep Tayyip Erdogan voices hope on prospects of bringing Russian, Ukrainian presidents together for regional peace

Diyar Guldogan: There is no obstacle preventing the extension of a landmark grain export deal, signed four months ago amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, so Russian grain and fertilizer can be shipped to world markets as well, Türkiye’s president has said.

“There is no obstacle to extending the shipping agreement. I saw this again in my phone call with (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy last night and in my meeting with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. But in the meantime, if there is any blockage, there is no obstacle for us to overcome,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Thursday while returning from a trip to Azerbaijan.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which paused after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February.

The parties are currently negotiating a possible extension and expansion beyond its Nov. 19 deadline to include Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

Erdogan said that under the deal, more than 8 million tons of Ukrainian grain had been supplied to world markets aboard 363 ships as of Thursday, adding that 62% of Ukrainian shipments had gone to Europe, 19.5% to Asia, 13% to Africa, and 5.3% to Middle Eastern countries.

Türkiye has been in close contact with both Russia and Ukraine since the beginning of the war. Erdogan has repeatedly stressed his wish to bring Putin and Zelenskyy together at the negotiating table in Türkiye to end it.

“We are not hopeless. It is our hope that we will continue on the road for peace by bringing the two leaders together,” he added.

Lachin airport to be opened in 2023

Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Thursday jointly inaugurated the Zangilan International Airport, Azerbaijan’s second airport in territories reclaimed from Armenia during the 2020 Karabakh War.

“Re-establishing the region’s connection with the world and strengthening the transportation lines are strategic moves. Hopefully, we will crown these breakthroughs by opening Lachin Airport next year,” Erdogan said.

The president said that during his talks with Aliyev, they also discussed peace and stability in the Caucasus region.

“Determining the borders, opening the connection road between Nakhchivan (autonomous region) and the western regions of Azerbaijan, and signing a peace agreement will be important steps for the region’s normalization,” he added.

Erdogan also said there was no doubt that progress in talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia would boost the normalization process between Ankara and Yerevan, as well.

Earlier this month, Erdogan, Aliyev, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had a brief conversation ahead of the European Political Community summit in the Czech capital, Prague.

Following the meeting, Erdogan said Ankara wanted to improve ties between the three countries and resolve outstanding issues.

‘Ankara has alternative plans if US refuses F-16 deal’

Amid ongoing negotiations with Washington for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye, Erdogan said talks continue as planned.

On recent remarks by US Senator Bob Menendez vowing to block any F-16 deal until the Turkish president “halts his campaign of aggression against the region,” Erdogan said: “The statements of senators like Menendez are their own personal opinions, their personal claims. It doesn’t reflect an institutional situation in any way.

“In addition, their relations with Greece are also the subject of a separate study. Why are they so biased about this?” he added.

Erdogan said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had stressed that the sale would also be important for the alliance as well, adding that Türkiye was closely monitoring the issue.

“The opposition of Menendez alone does not prevent this,” he underlined.

Erdogan also reiterated that the US sale was not the sole possibility for Türkiye, adding that Ankara had alternative plans if Washington refuses the deal.

“Just like with the S400s, we are also negotiating with alternatives outside the US when necessary,” he said.

Last week, in a development welcomed by Ankara, two amendments putting conditions on potential F-16 sales to Türkiye were reportedly removed from the Senate version of the relevant bill.

The conditions included requiring the US president to take steps to ensure the warplanes “are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece.”

Sweden’s NATO bid: On Sweden’s application to join NATO earlier this year, Erdogan said Ankara would not change its stance against the country’s accession until it extradited terrorists residing within its borders to Türkiye.

“Meanwhile, Sweden’s new prime minister requested an appointment. I told our friends: ‘Give an appointment.’ We’ll discuss these issues with him in our country, as well. Our opinion on this point has not changed. They must catch the terrorists who have been convicted and hand them over to us,” he said.

Swedish premier Ulf Kristersson on Thursday reiterated his commitment to a memorandum signed in late June between Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye on the Nordic countries’ NATO accession.

“We are very committed to the agreement between Sweden and Finland and Türkiye, and we’re doing everything we can as soon as possible to fulfill all the obligations in it,” Kristersson said.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in June, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

However, Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the two countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

The three countries signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding at NATO’s June summit in Madrid, which stipulates that Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the YPG/PYD — the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian offshoot, or the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye.

Finland and Sweden also agreed to address Ankara’s pending deportation or extradition requests for terror suspects.

Türkiye’s parliament must ratify the country’s approval for Finland and Sweden’s membership for them to join NATO.

PKK impertinent, depraved: On recent fabricated allegations by PKK terrorists on the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish military, Erdogan stressed that Türkiye had never used chemical weapons and said legal action would be taken against those making such allegations.

Underlining that all of Türkiye’s actions complied with international law, he said: “This isn’t the first time they’re making such slander. They’re impertinent, they’re depraved. This is the mud they always sling at our army.”

Turkish National Defense Ministry on Thursday also rejected the “completely baseless and untrue” allegations.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *