Erdoğan denounces annexation of Crimea

Erdoğan denounces annexation of Crimea

Erdoğan denounces annexation of Crimea

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 3 denounced Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Erdoğan on Feb. 3 met with his Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev. The leaders held a bilateral meeting and attended the Ukraine-Turkey business forum.

During a joint press conference with Zelensky, Erdoğan said that Turkey's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity will continue.

Ankara is “closely monitoring" the situation of Crimea's Tatar Turks and will continue supporting them with Ukrainian authorities, he added.

For his part, Zelensky said Ukraine country is "grateful" to get assistance from Turkish partners, thanks to the military and financial cooperation between the two countries.

On exchanges of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, Ukraine sought Turkey's support on the release of Ukrainian citizens including Crimean Tatars in Russian prisons, Zelensky added.

The Tatars have faced persecution since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. 

'Untenable' situation in Idlib

For the heightened tensions between Ankara and Damascus in Idlib, Erdoğan said that the situation has "unfortunately become untenable."

Turkey has been "very patient," Erdoğan said.

The president also underlined that due to the attacks by the Bashar al-Assad regime, one million people are fleeing towards Turkey's borders.

Regarding the recent clashes between Turkey and Syria, Erdoğan said that "eight people, including three civilians and five [Turkish] soldiers, were martyred today in shelling by Assad regime forces in Idlib."

"We are making [regime forces] pay the necessary price intensively through air and ground attacks, and we will continue to do so," he underlined.

Erdoğan also urged involving parties to abide by agreements hammered in Astana and Sochi, as part of the peace process.

"Turkey will continue its work in this framework," he said.

Meanwhile, Zelensky extended condolences to Turkey over the death of Turkish military personnel in Idlib.

Erdoğan says presented info to Zelensky on murdered Turkish academic

The president also conveyed that he has presented intelligence information and documents to his Ukranian counterpart. The documents Erdoğan was referring to is in connection to the murder of Necip Hablemitoğlu, a Turkish academic killed in 2002. Hablemitoğlu was known for his research on the FETÖ, the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt.

Erdoğan said that the information he provided indicated that the suspect in Hablemitoğlu's killing is in Ukraine.

Hablemitoğlu was killed in front of his house in Turkey's capital Ankara, but the murder was never solved. Reports have said his killer may be in Ukraine.

For his part, Zelensky said: "This issue [FETÖ infiltration of Ukraine] has been on the agenda of two countries for a long time. I learned the details of the issue today."

"I sent all the documents to Ukraine's Security Service head [on Feb. 3]," he added.

Prisoner exchanges

On Feb. 2, a prisoner swap between Ukraine's government and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine was completed.

On Dec. 9, the leaders of the Normandy Four countries -- Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine -- met in Paris, and the parties to the conflict agreed to a full exchange of prisoners of war before the end of December.

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

Turkey, as well as the U.N. General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.

Ukraine also blames the Kremlin for separatist violence in Donbass, a region in eastern Ukraine that borders Russia.