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Russia, Ukraine could find ground for talks again, says Türkiye

After meeting with visiting Russian counterpart, Türkiye's foreign minister says UN plans for food corridor mechanism 'reasonable, feasible' amid Ukraine war

Merve Aydogan  | 08.06.2022 - Update : 08.06.2022
Russia, Ukraine could find ground for talks again, says Türkiye


As the Russia-Ukraine war continues past the 100-day mark, Türkiye said Wednesday there may again be grounds for talks between the two countries.

"We see a (common) will between Russia and Ukraine to return to negotiations," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at the presidential complex in Türkiye’s capital Ankara.

Addressing reporters after a "fruitful" meeting with Lavrov, Cavusoglu underlined Ankara sees the UN's plans to establish a mechanism on a food corridor out of Ukraine – colloquially referred to as a global breadbasket – as "reasonable and feasible."

"We are talking about a plan (for food corridor) that includes a mechanism and cooperation that could be established between the UN, Russia, Ukraine, and Türkiye, which would include supervision of vessels," he explained.

If this plan is accepted by Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye could host such a meeting in Istanbul and discuss the details with all parties, the top diplomat said.

The Turkish foreign minister called Russia's demands for the removal of sanctions to help grain exports "legitimate" if the Ukrainian grain needs to be opened up to the international market.

Necessary measures, Cavusoglu said, should be taken to ensure the safe passage of vessels, adding steps should be taken to provide insurance to banking transactions.

He underscored that the world is facing a real food crisis and problems with fertilizer, pointing out the concerns of Latin American countries on this issue, as well.

Cavusoglu also urged all parties to jointly pave the way for the export of products from both Ukraine and Russia.

Lavrov, for his part, said the share of Ukrainian grain exports in the global market made up about 1% of the total and does not play a significant role in thwarting the risk of a global food crisis.

Nevertheless, Russia values Türkiye's efforts to unblock the situation on grain exports from Ukrainian sea ports, he added.

The Russian and Turkish militaries are discussing clearing mines dotting Ukraine's ports to free the way for grain exports, Lavrov also said.

According to the Russian top diplomat, the main problem with the export of Ukrainian grain is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's refusal to discuss the clearing of sea mines.

He expressed readiness to provide any kind of security for ships leaving Ukraine's ports with the grain "hand-in-hand" with Turkish authorities.

"We guarantee that we will not use the demining of Ukrainian ports to attack the country," he pledged.

Lavrov then urged the resumption of peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

He said Russia is ready for a meeting with the UN and Ukraine in Istanbul, although such a meeting "would be nothing but symbolic."

Terrorism in Syria

On fighting terrorism in Syria, Cavusoglu said terrorist groups threatening the war-torn country had also upped the ante against Türkiye.

Ankara voiced its expectation from the US and Russia to fulfill their commitments against terrorist organizations in Syria and abide by agreements signed in October 2019, Cavusoglu reiterated.

"It is our utmost right to expect these commitments to be fulfilled. It is not possible for us to tolerate the attacks of these terrorist organizations against Türkiye," he stressed.

In 2019, Russia expressed its commitment to remove the YPG/PKK terrorist organization from the Tal Rifaat and Manbij areas in northwestern Syria after reaching an agreement with Türkiye during Ankara's Operation Peace Spring.

Moscow had also promised that the terrorists would be removed from areas up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the Turkish border until the M4 road and in the area adjacent to the Operation Peace Spring zone.

Likewise, the US' then Vice President Mike Pence had also pledged to Türkiye that the YPG/PKK terror group would withdraw from the Operation Peace Spring zone.

But neither Moscow nor Washington have kept their promises.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.

During Wednesday's meeting, the Turkish and Russian top diplomats also discussed negotiations of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva that ended on Friday, seeking a solution to the ongoing civil war, according to Lavrov.

However, Cavusoglu said the negotiations in Geneva did not yield results due to the "negative stance of the (Bashar al-Assad) regime powers."

"The only solution is a political solution. The only solution is that the opposition, the moderate opposition, except the terrorists, and the regime should sit down and come to an agreement about the future of the country," Cavusoglu said.

Lavrov protested the US support for "terror organizations" in Syria, saying Moscow had suffered from a similar situation in the Caucasus region in the 1990s.

He said they had also exchanged views on the normalization processes between Armenia and Türkiye, and Armenia and Azerbaijan, adding that Russia was willing to host another meeting in Moscow between the sides.

Cavusoglu also conveyed Ankara's gratitude to Moscow for its support in the normalization process between Türkiye and Armenia.

Lavrov praised the development of Russian-Turkish relations, noting that the bilateral trade had reached $14 billion and major projects were being implemented successfully.

He admitted that the two countries have different views on many things, however, "when Russia and Türkiye have differences, they respect the positions of each other, this is the key to the achievements in the relations."

Furthermore, Turkish and Russian foreign ministers also evaluated the latest developments in Libya, according to Cavusoglu.

"In order to establish stability in Libya, everyone must do their part," he said, adding Türkiye "always stood by legitimacy in Libya."

"We believe that the country should get ready for transparent and democratic elections," he said.

As a last-minute question by a Ukrainian journalist on "any other stolen products from Ukraine into Russia," Lavrov said: "You are constantly worried about where and what we could steal, do you think everyone is doing this? Our goal is to fulfill our targets that we have officially announced, which is to liberate eastern Ukraine from the oppression of the Neo-Nazi regime."

"Grain could freely be transported to its destination. There is no obstacle by the Russian side. (Ukrainian President) Zelensky needs to give orders to Ukrainian and foreign vessels to pass to the Black Sea if he is still able to manage things there," Lavrov said.

*Elena Teslova in Moscow contributed to this story. Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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