By Hatice Senses Kurukiz and Berk Ozkan
Turkey and other nations will address challenges faced by the global economy at this week’s G20 summit in Argentina, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.
“We will determine the steps that we will take to eliminate the main risks to the world economy by evaluating the global economic outlook,” Erdogan said while speaking to journalists at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before departing for Buenos Aires, where the two-day meeting will be held beginning Friday.
He warned that the issue of trade was recently causing serious controversy due to the unilateral protectionist actions of some countries.
“Free and fair international trade is one of the key elements of global economic growth,” he said.
Erdogan said education, health, employment, agriculture, development and energy issues would also be addressed.
He reiterated plans to pay official visits to Paraguay and Venezuela from Dec. 2-3 after attending the G20 summit.
Recalling his phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, Erdogan said he discussed tensions in the Sea of Azov with both parties.
“We discussed with both sides what can be done about this and whether we can play a mediator role,” he said.
Erdogan said he will discuss the issue further with Putin on the sidelines of the summit.
On Sunday, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with 23 crew members off Crimea, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict.
It said the vessels had ignored calls to stop, sparking military action.
Russia intervened as the Ukrainian ships were relocating from the Black Sea port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.
Videos appeared online showing a Russian coast guard vessel ramming the Ukrainian navy tugboat in the Kerch Strait.
Ukraine also accused Russian warships of opening fire on the ships, asserting that crew members were wounded and the vessels were seized by Russia.
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, viewed the annexation as illegal.
Erdogan also said he would meet with his U.S. counterpart on the sidelines of the summit.
“We will discuss [northern Syria’s] Manbij issue with U.S. President Donald Trump in Argentina,” he said.
Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij, northeast of the Aleppo Governorate in Syria, on Nov. 1 as part of an agreement that focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a terrorist group recognized by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU which in its 30-year terror campaign has taken some 40,000 lives.
The U.S. has claimed the YPG/PKK is an “ally” in the fight against Daesh over Turkey’s objections that one cannot use a terrorist group to fight another.
Turkey has repeatedly cited evidence that the YPG is no different from the PKK.