Russia-Ukraine war likely to continue in 2023: Akar
The war between Russia and Ukraine will likely endure in 2023, the Turkish defense minister has said, reiterating that Ankara’s efforts for peace or at least a humanitarian ceasefire will continue in the coming period in determination.
“What is seen is that this war will not end easily. The support from the United States, Europe and the West [to Ukraine] continues. There are preparations and plans accordingly. On the other hand, there are statements from Russia,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters at a meeting over the weekend.
“When we combine all of them, it won’t be wrong to suggest that it is highly probable that this war will continue in 2023 despite our goodwill efforts and wishes for peace and ceasefire.”
Russia started its occupation of Ukraine on Feb. 24, and the war is still continuing, especially in the eastern parts of the latter’s territories. Ankara sought to negotiate between the two sides by bringing Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers to Antalya at a meeting hosted by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
“We, as Türkiye, suggest peace. At least we call for a humanitarian ceasefire, which will be followed with permanent ceasefire and peace talks. Türkiye is determinately continuing its efforts to this end. We are in favor of peace and the end of the war.”
He also recalled that the grain deal brokered by the efforts of Türkiye has avoided a major global food crisis, informing that around 15 million tons of grains have been transported to the countries in need since the start of the operation.
NATO should urge Greece
On ongoing tension between Türkiye and Greece over the Aegean Sea, Akar emphasized that Türkiye is in favor of peace, stability and cooperation with its neighbors based on mutual respect for sovereign rights.
Accusing Greece of continuing its provocative attitudes and actions in the region, Akar reminded that the Greek air forces harassed the Turkish jets performing NATO missions in two separate incidents in the past week.
“Our warfighters have given the necessary response as usual and accomplished their missions. This hostile attitude shows that Greek impertinence has reached the level of ignoring NATO’s fundamental principles and values. It is time for NATO to stop this,” Akar said.
The minister also urged Greece to stop arming the Greek islands with demilitarized status. “Those who want a better future should know to return from today’s and past mistakes. Our genuine wish is to turn the Aegean and Mediterranean into a sea of friendship.”
On a question about increasing military cooperation between Greece and the U.S., Akar informed that the latter has nine military bases on the Greek territories.
No tolerance for terror
On questions about a potential cross-border operation into northern Syria to eliminate the PKK/YPG terrorists from the border, Akar said nobody should expect tolerance from Türkiye when it comes to securing its borders and protecting its people against terrorists.
Recalling that Türkiye is in talks with the U.S., Russia and other relevant parties in regard to the developments in Syria, the minister said: “We will try to resolve the problems in a reasonable and logical way. If we cannot, then we will decide on our own.”
When recalled about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s proposal of holding a three-way meeting between Türkiye, Russia and Syria, Akar said that Ankara has never ruled out dialogue for the protection of its interests and rights.
“Dialogue is there. Sometimes it is between the ministers and sometimes between intelligence,” he informed.