Erdoğan due in Kiev to discuss Ukraine-Russia standoff
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will go to Kiev on Feb. 3 to discuss ways to further improve bilateral ties with Ukraine, including signing a free trade deal, and to jointly evaluate the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, following Ankara’s repeated offer of mediation between the two nations.
Erdoğan will be hosted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev as the two leaders will hold a tete-a-tete meeting and chair a high-level strategic cooperation council meeting with the participation of ministers and senior officials from both sides.
The visit comes as the world is cautiously watching the developments on Ukraine’s border where Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops, with fears of an imminent military action.
At a meeting with youth in the Black Sea town of Trabzon on late Feb. 1, Erdoğan explained that Turkey’s ultimate wish is to see the resolution of the problem between Ukraine and Russia.
“We never want a war between Russia and Ukraine. This won’t be a good development for the region,” Erdoğan stated. Turkey, as a member of NATO, will never accept such a war, he said, expressing his wish for a peaceful resolution of the standoff between the two countries.
Turkey has good ties with both countries, the president suggested, recalling that Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a visit to Turkey in the coming period. Erdoğan had said Turkey was ready to mediate between Kiev and Moscow and host Zelensky and Putin in Turkey should they accept to come together and discuss the problems.
Ties with Russia developing
Erdoğan recalled that ties between Turkey and Russia continue to develop and achieve a good amount of trade, saying “Our relations with Russia over the strategic goods have also come to a good level. The most important among them is on [the supply of] natural gas. Our ties concerning natural gas are very good.”
Russia is building Turkey’s first nuclear plant and there are negotiations for the construction of the second nuclear plant by Russia, Erdoğan stressed. “Nuclear energy along with natural gas are very important links [between our countries]. For me, this is the most important element of foreign policy,” he added.
Free trade deal may be signed
During the talks in Kiev, the two countries are expected to sign a free trade deal for further expanding economic bonds between Turkey and Ukraine. “We provide guarantees of financial stability for our country. We are preparing to send a strong economic signal – to sign within these two days the Free Trade Agreement with Turkey. Our groups are working so I’m sure we will agree on everything,” said Zelensky on Feb. 1. The two countries have long been negotiating a free trade deal.
Kalın, Sullivan talk Ukraine
In the meantime, Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy adviser and spokesman İbrahim Kalın held a phone conversation with U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, as the two men discussed their commitment to “deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.
Kalın reportedly told Sullivan that Turkey would provide “all forms of support” to resolving the Ukraine crisis ahead of Erdoğan’s planned visit to Kiev.