Turkey reiterates offer to host Russian, Ukrainian leaders

Turkey reiterates offer to host Russian, Ukrainian leaders

Turkey reiterates offer to host Russian, Ukrainian leaders

Turkey has once again reiterated its proposal to host a leader-level meeting between Russian and Ukrainian presidents during a phone conversation between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on March 17.

Erdoğan pointed out that reaching consensus on some issues may require talks at the leadership level and repeated his offer to host Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul or Ankara, a statement by the Turkish Presidential Communications Directorate said.

The two leaders discussed the latest developments in the conflict between Russia-Ukraine and the humanitarian situation on the ground, the statement said.

Erdoğan told Putin that Ankara had kept its sincere approach to maintaining peace between Russia and Ukraine from the very beginning.

If a permanent ceasefire is declared, it would pave the way for a long-term solution, Erdoğan told the Russian leader, expressing his wish for positive results from the talks between the two warring sides.

Erdoğan underlined that “the war would not benefit any side and diplomacy should be given an opportunity.” He also emphasized the need to observe the humanitarian situation on the ground and to operate the humanitarian corridors effectively and smoothly in both directions,” the statement said.

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın outlined some of the demands voiced by Putin in an interview with BBC.

One of them is an acceptance by Ukraine that it should be neutral and should not apply to join NATO. Ukraine would have to undergo a disarmament process to ensure it wasn’t a threat to Russia. There would have to be protection for the Russian language in Ukraine, and demand for “de-Nazification” was on the agenda.

Putin said that it would need face-to-face negotiations between him and Zelensky before an agreement could be reached on these points, Kalın told the broadcaster.

“Mr. Kalın was much less specific about these issues, saying simply that they involved the status of Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, parts of which have already broken away from Ukraine and stressed their Russianness, and the status of Crimea,” BBC reported.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşğlu had a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart on March 18.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has asked Turkey to be a guarantor of any future deal with Russia, along with the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, Çavuşoğlu earlier said.

“Ukraine made an offer on the collective security agreement: P5 [the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members], Turkey and Germany,” the Turkish foreign minister said during a visit to the Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 17.

“I saw that the Russian Federation had no objection and could accept such an offer,” he added, referring to his meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow on March 16.

Turkey, which has close ties with Ukraine and Russia, has tried to position itself as a mediator in the three-week-old conflict.

Last week, it hosted the first high-level meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the southern resort city of Antalya since the war began.