Turkey ready to bring Russian

Turkey wants Talks

Turkey wants to bring Russian and Ukrainian top diplomats together during the next week’s Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Friday as he attended an extraordinary meeting of NATO’s top diplomats in Brussels.

Also Read: Why Erdogan is a key player in the Russia-Ukraine crisis?

Addressing reporters after the meeting, he said that they would like to bring Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba together at the Antalya Diplomatic Forum if conditions allow.

Çavuşoğlu also said that the situation in Ukraine was worsening and it must not be allowed to escalate, adding Turkey would keep its air space open.

“Keeping airspace open is important for strategic and humanitarian reasons, Turkey underlined at the NATO meeting,” he said.

He added Turkey and Russia were in contact at the military level to make sure Turkish vessels could safely return from ports in the Black Sea.

Another point the minister touched upon was the evacuation efforts.

Çavuşoğlu said that negotiations are ongoing for the evacuation of some Turkish citizens by first transferring them to Russia.

He also added that a total of 9,653 Turkish citizens have been evacuated so far.

As allies reiterated their support for Ukraine, Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter that the foreign ministers of the alliance have “exchanged views on the developments in Ukraine.”

“As Allies, we support the political unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he added.

Ahead of the meeting, Çavuşoğlu also discussed the situation in Ukraine with his British and Romanian counterparts.

“Ahead of NATO Meeting in Brussels, discussed the latest situation in Ukraine & bilateral relations with Foreign Secretary (Liz Truss),” he wrote on Twitter, sharing two photos from the meeting.

Later, Çavuşoğlu met Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu.

“Discussed latest developments in Ukraine with FM Bogdan Aurescu of Romania and thanked for their support in evacuating our citizens,” he said in another tweet.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said NATO would defend “every inch” of members’ territory but emphasized the alliance was defensive, as foreign ministers resisted Ukrainian calls for a no-fly zone to battle the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a no-fly zone since Moscow’s invasion started on Feb. 24, with Russia shelling cities and bringing the fight to Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and members of the alliance, whose foreign ministers met in Brussels on Friday, are wary of being drawn into the war with nuclear-armed Russia.

“NATO will defend all its allies and territory against a Russian attack,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on arriving in Brussels, which hosts the alliance’s headquarters.

“Ours is a defensive alliance. We seek no conflict. But if conflict comes to us, we are ready for it and we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”

NATO’s head echoed Blinken’s condemnation of Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic and Moscow satellite that wants to join the European Union as well as the Western military alliance.

Ukrainian authorities said on Friday that Russian forces had seized the largest nuclear power plant in Europe after a building at the Zaporizhzhia complex was set ablaze during intense fighting.

“This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

While some countries indicated a willingness to discuss a no-fly zone, they made it clear that they did not consider it a viable option.

Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage. The European Union, United States, and the United Kingdom, among others, implemented tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

According to United Nations figures, 227 civilians have been killed and 525 injured in Ukraine since the start of the war. Ukrainian authorities, however, put the death toll at over 2,000.

More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

While the war between Russia and Ukraine enters its second week, Turkey tries to keep its neutral and balanced position by keeping communication with all sides open.

Maintaining its neutral and balanced stance, Turkey continues its diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine conflict, urging restraint for all sides. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions aiming to isolate Moscow, it also closed the Bosporus and Dardanelles under a 1936 pact, allowing it to curb some Russian vessels from crossing the Turkish Straits.

NATO ally Turkey borders Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good ties with both. Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and offered to host peace talks, also underlining its support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While recently calling Russia’s invasion an unacceptable violation of international law, Turkey has carefully formulated its rhetoric not to offend Moscow, with which it has close energy, defense, and tourism ties.

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SOURCE DAILY SABAH

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