Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin

Erdoğan to ask Putin for an “honorable exit” to war in Ukraine

Erdoğan, who will speak to Putin in a few days, says that the war in Ukraine shows the key role of NATO and Turkey in the security of Europe.

Erdoğan will ask Putin to seek an “honorable exit” from Ukraine and end the war, according to the Turkish president, who yesterday attended the NATO summit in Brussels, focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the response to the conflict.

“Possibly I will talk to Putin either this weekend, or next week. Since we will be doing an assessment of the NATO meeting with him, we will tell him ‘After this, you should be the architect of the peace actions.’ We must find a way to end this, and we will suggest that you ‘find an honorable way out‘ (to the conflict),” Erdoğan told reporters aboard the Turkish presidential plane, on his return trip from Brussels.

The Turkish president recalled that Turkey has been making great diplomatic efforts since the beginning of the conflict to end the war, with bilateral meetings with both parties that culminated in the recent meeting that the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers held in Antalya. This, he assured, shows that Turkey can be a guarantor state for Ukraine in the event that both countries reach a peace agreement.

In this regard, the Turkish president explained that Moscow and Kyiv have some flexibility when it comes to reaching agreements on four fundamental points, including the neutrality of Ukraine, the partial disarmament of the Ukrainian army, or the protection of the Russian language in the country; however – he added – the status of Crimea and Donbas continue to be the main stumbling blocks for an agreement, given that Russia demands recognition of its independence, and Ukraine – like Turkey and the rest of the international community – demands respect for its territorial integrity.

“(Zelensky) has made a wise decision on the Donbas issue. In a gesture of good leadership, he said that a referendum should be held on this (independence) issue,” Erdoğan noted.

War in Ukraine has revealed the key role of Turkey in Europe’s security

For the Turkish president, this serious crisis has once again highlighted the importance of Turkey for Europe, something that he assured that all the allies recognised at the recent NATO summit, where all the leaders of the Atlantic Alliance showed that they are more aware than ever of the critical role that Turkey plays in the region, he said.

“First of all, this crisis has shown two things: first, the fundamental structure for European security is NATO, this has been made very clear; second, Turkey is an essential ally for the security of the region. This has been said both during the summit (in Brussels), and in our bilateral meetings (with heads of state of the Alliance),” explained Erdoğan, who assured that Turkey will continue to fullfill its responsibilities in NATO.

Regarding the situation created by the economic sanctions against Russia, the Turkish president said that Turkey is ready to welcome those companies that decide to leave Russia, and announced again that Ankara does not plan to join the sanctions imposed against Moscow, adding that it only would consider joining the sanctions if they had the backing of the UN.

Erdoğan recalled in this regard that Turkey receives half of its demand of natural gas from Russia, a country with which Ankara also collaborates on several projects, including the construction of the first Turkish nuclear power plant. “We can’t ignore that. When I explained this to Macron (during the NATO summit on Ukraine), he himself told me that I was right”. Even so, Turkey has always defended the sovereignty of Ukraine and has condemned the invasion ordered by Putin from day one, but will continue to maintain a neutral position for good relations with both countries and to mediate in a peace agreement.