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President Erdogan: Annexation of Crimea illegal

Continuation of kinsmen's existence in historical motherland Crimea among priorities for Turkey, says President Erdogan

Gözde Bayar  | 07.08.2019 - Update : 08.08.2019
President Erdogan: Annexation of Crimea illegal Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) hold a joint press conference in Ankara, Turkey on August 7, 2019. ( Metin Aktas - Anadolu Agency )


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey will not accept the illegal annexation of Crimea.

After meeting his Ukrainian counterpart in Ankara, Erdogan told a joint press conference: “Continuation of our kinsmen's existence in their historical motherland Crimea, protection of their identity and culture, preservation of their basic rights and freedoms are Turkey's priorities.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia to act within international laws.

He stressed that Crimea belonged to Ukraine and said his country and Russia would find a common path to re-establish peace and stability in the region.

He described Turkey as a “good neighbor, sincere friend and important strategic partner,” in highlighting Turkey’s importance to relations with Ukraine.

"I would like to thank you for your steady support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky said he wanted to make his country a “center of attraction” for foreign investors through economic and trade reforms.

Trade reached $4 billion in 2018 between Turkey and Ukraine, said Zelensky and the figure does not reflect the potential of the two countries.

The target trade volume between the two nations is $ 10 billion and a free trade agreement will also pave the for reaching this goal, he said.

”I would like to invite the Turkish business world to Ukraine,” said Zelensky and he guaranteed a comfortable work environment.

The Ukrainian leader is in Turkey for a two-day-visit.

The Eastern European country held snap parliamentary elections last month after Zelensky, a former popular comedian, dissolved parliament, Verkhovna Rada, during his swearing-in ceremony in May.

The elections did not take place in Crimea, a peninsula on the northern Black Sea coast illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, or in eastern Ukraine, which is currently under the control of pro-Russian rebels. 

Peace corridor in Syria 

Erdogan stressed the importance of a “peace corridor” in Syria, and said Turkey and the U.S. agreed to establish a joint operation center. 

“Three-day talks with the U.S. military delegation ended positively,” said Erdogan, highlighting the important thing is to take a step in east of Euphrates with the U.S.

Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed that the safe-zone in northern Syria will be a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians longing to return home, according to the Turkish National Defense Ministry.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara also confirmed in a statement that the parties agreed to rapidly implement "initial measures" to address Turkey's security concerns and establish a Joint Operations Center in Turkey to coordinate the establishment of the safe zone.

Turkey conducted two successful cross-border operations in Syria since 2016, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, both meant to eradicate the presence of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists.

Ankara expected the creation of a 20-mile (32-kilometer) safe zone in northern Syria and stressed that it wants the YPG/PYD terror group cleared in the region.

YPG/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of terror group PKK, which has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women and infants, for more than 30 years. 

Donbass region, Minsk process 

Erdogan said he hoped that the conflict in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine will end as soon as possible.

“We believe that the problem could be resolved peacefully in line with international law and the Ukraine's territorial integrity,” he added.

Ukraine has blamed the Kremlin for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia.

The situation was aggravated after Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

Kiev put responsibility on pro-Russian militants in Donbass. In turn, Moscow accuses Ukraine of shooting down the plane.

Stressing that Turkey supported the Minsk process, Erdogan said he gave full support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which is headed by Turkish ambassadors.

He extended condolences to the Ukrainian people. He said that the cease-fire was violated in Donbass region and four Ukrainian soldiers were killed.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, consisting of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, agreed Wednesday in Minsk on "a summer cease-fire" in the Donbass region. 

The group which was formed to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the war in Donbass agreed to prepare for an exchange of detainees and reconstruct a bridge, joining the line of demarcation.

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