Russian FM confirms his visit to Antalya next week: Çavuşoğlu
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has confirmed his planned visit to Antalya next week to attend a diplomacy forum, according to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who reiterated Ankara’s wish to gather Lavrov and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba for talks to end the ongoing armed conflict between the two nations.
“We continue messaging with Mr. Lavrov. He confirmed to me that he will come to Antalya. I hope a ceasefire can be reached so that we can organize a meeting at the ministerial level,” Çavuşoğlu said at a press conference in Brussels after an extraordinary NATO meeting on March 4.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry will organize the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on March 11 and 13, where leaders from all over the world, as well as scholars, media and other experts, will come together to discuss the current world affairs.
Çavuşoğlu said Ukrainian leaders had already confirmed their presence in Antalya but he was not so sure now whether they can attend it due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“As a matter of fact, we had planned a meeting between Ukraine and Russian ministers. But I don’t know whether they can make it now,” he stressed. Çavuşoğlu said he also planned to hold a trilateral meeting with Russian and Iranian ministers in the format of Astana Group to discuss the developments in Syria.
This meeting is still on the schedule, he said, adding there were other senior officials from other countries and representatives from international organizations who wish to meet Lavrov in Antalya.
Turkey has not closed its air space to Russian aircraft, recalled Çavuşoğlu. Lavrov could not fly to Geneva last week to attend a U.N. human rights council meeting.
War must be stopped immediately
The minister said he informed NATO allies about the policies Turkey has been following since the beginning of the crisis, stressing, “It’s for sure important that an agreement for creating humanitarian corridors has been reached, but we have expressed our wish for an immediate end to the war.”
Çavuşoğlu said he found the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with his colleagues from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium as well as Lithuania on the sidelines of the meeting.
“Our counterparts have expressed the fact that Turkey is among rare countries having a dialogue with both countries,” he stated.
On a question, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey will continue to keep its air space open to Russian planes for both strategic and humanitarian purposes. “If our air space would be closed then we could not transfer an OSCE monitoring group from Russia to Turkey,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu informed the Europeans who are stuck in Russia and Russians who wish to return home will be able to do so through Turkey. “Keeping the air space open is not beneficial only for Turkey but the countries who are imposing sanctions on Russia, too. It’s important for strategic and humanitarian purposes,” he said.
In the meantime, Çavuşoğlu expressed Turkey’s satisfaction with the agreement at a phone conversation with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba late March 3, according to diplomatic sources.