March 25, 2023

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Call for a truce launched by Turkey to Ukraine and Russia, before Erdogan’s meeting with Putin

Turkey launched an appeal to Russia and Ukraine for a ceasefire on Tuesday, which comes ahead of a meeting expected this week in Astana between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to AFP.

A member of NATO, Turkey has remained neutral since the beginning of the conflict triggered by Russia against Ukraine on February 24 and maintains good relations with its two Black Sea neighbors.

Ankara played a key role in the September prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine, as well as in the conclusion, in July, under the auspices of the UN, of an agreement between the two countries allowing the resumption of the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea and the Bosphorus.

On two occasions, Turkey brought together Russian and Ukrainian representatives on its territory for discussions, according to Agerpres.

Erdogan has met with Putin three times in the past three months, but also speaks regularly by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Turkish president presents himself as a privileged mediator and has been looking for a long time to bring the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to the negotiating table to negotiate a ceasefire, which neither of them particularly wants, AFP notes.

But the aggravation of the situation on the ground hinders peace efforts, the French press agency also comments.

“Unfortunately, (the two sides) quickly moved away from diplomacy” since talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in March in Istanbul, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a televised interview.

“As the war between Ukraine and Russia drags on, unfortunately, the situation is getting worse and more complicated,” he added, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

“A ceasefire must be established as soon as possible. The sooner, the better”, said the head of Turkish diplomacy.

Erdogan, who maintains good working relations with Putin despite disagreements on several issues including Syria, is expected to meet his Russian counterpart in Astana on Thursday for a regional summit, a Russian official told AFP on Tuesday. , subject to anonymity.

Highly dependent on Russian oil and gas, Turkey has not joined Western sanctions against Russia.

Erdogan, whose last meeting with Putin was in September on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan, wants to increase trade with Moscow to help Turkey’s struggling economy ahead of presidential elections in June.

At the end of September, Ankara bowed to American pressure and abandoned the Russian Mir payment system, which allowed Russian citizens to continue withdrawing money in Turkey.

Erdogan has yet to comment on Russian strikes across Ukrainian territory on Monday, which left 19 dead and more than 100 wounded, according to Kiev’s latest tally.

The head of Turkish diplomacy, Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, had a telephone conversation on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmitro Kuleba, a Turkish diplomatic source indicates, without providing further details.

In Tuesday’s televised interview, Cavusoglu called for a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“There must be a just peace for Ukraine. Where is the war taking place? This is going to Ukrainian soil,” he emphasized.

“A process must be started to guarantee the territorial integrity and borders of Ukraine”, estimated the Turkish foreign minister. “Without a ceasefire, we cannot talk about these issues in a constructive way: a viable ceasefire and a just peace,” he insisted.

At the beginning of October, Turkey rejected Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Luhansk (in the east), Kherson and Zaporozhye (in the south) – just as it did not recognize the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.

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