Turkey seeks 'stability' in Black Sea, not tensions

We want Black Sea to be sea of peace, says Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on visit to Ukraine

Turkey seeks 'stability' in Black Sea, not tensions

By Tugcenur Yilmaz


Turkey seeks "peace and stability" in the Black Sea region, not tensions, said Turkey’s foreign minister on Friday.

"We do not want the Black Sea to be a sea of tensions. On the contrary, we want a sea of peace and stability," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin in the Ukrainian city of Odessa.

Cavusoglu was visiting Odessa to attend the seventh meeting of the joint strategic planning group functioning under the Turkey-Ukraine High Level Strategic Council.

Touching on the security of the Black Sea region, Cavusoglu said Turkey is a NATO member which supports and contributes to the bloc’s decisions.

On last year’s crisis between Ukraine and Russia around the Sea of Azov, next to Crimea, he said Turkey has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia, so Ukraine and the rest of the world have expectations of Turkey.

Last November, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a tugboat along with 24 crew members off Crimea, accusing the vessels of entering its waters and provoking conflict.

Ukraine accused Russian warships of opening fire on the ships, wounding their crew members.

Additionally, Cavusoglu repeated Turkey's support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and its borders.

Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.

Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.

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

Crimean Tatars

Turkey and Ukraine will continue to defend the rights of Crimean Tatars, Cavusoglu said.

He underlined that Turkey will continue its efforts to bring detained Crimean Tatars from Russia back to Ukraine.

There are some 280,000 Tatars -- a Turkic ethnic group -- living in Crimea, or nearly 13 percent of the peninsula’s total population, according to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.

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