Turkey urges respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity
KIEV- Anadolu Agency
"The problem at the Donbas region should be solved within the territorial integrity and we are happy that the ceasefire continues, despite some small breaches," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on an official visit to Ukraine.
Addressing a press conference after he met with Ukrainian officials, Çavuşoğlu said the situation of Crimean Tatar Turks was also among the topics of discussion.
Touching upon Turkey's position on Crimea, he said they do not recognize the "unlawful annexation of Crimea."
"We openly express this at the U.N. and other international platforms," he said.
He added that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) special observation mission working under Turkish Ambassador Halit Çevik will continue receiving support from Ankara.
Noting that Turkey-Ukraine relations are "developing rapidly in all areas", he said: "In today's talks we had a chance to discuss some bilateral issues as well as some regional issues. From the economy and education to tourism and health, we have ongoing cooperation."
He added that Turkey, despite the pandemic, hosted 1 million Ukrainian tourists mostly in his hometown of Antalya.
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's the Crimean Peninsula, a move widely viewed as illegal by the international community, including Turkey and the U.N.
Kyiv also blames Moscow for separatist violence in its eastern Donbas region, which borders Russia.
Peace in Black Sea region
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also told the press conference that Ankara is aware of the importance of peace and stability in the Black Sea region.
“We would like everyone to know that we are very cautious and sensitive about this. We are taking all measures not to let any provocations, tension [in the region],” Akar noted.
Congratulating Ukraine on being recognized as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner by NATO, Akar said it was an “important step”.
Akar said they continue working together as co-chairs of Turkey-Ukraine Joint Economic Commission, and added: “We do important work not only on defense and security issues but also on trade, investment, and tourism issues and I would like to state that these will be fruitful in the coming period and will be very beneficial for both countries.”
Speaking at the 2+2 format meeting, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran termed it “a historical event.”
“This meeting shows the governments of Ukraine-Turkey give to the improvement of their strategic partnership,” Taran said.
New page in relationship
Stating that the two countries also boost military and technical cooperation, he said agreements on production and procurement of corvette and armed drones for the Ukrainian army was signed this week.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, for his part, said they have undertaken “the pride” of opening a new page in the history of Ukraine-Turkey relations.
“This format will be important in terms of Turkey's support towards the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine,” Kuleba said.
The Turkish foreign and defense ministers held meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Friday.
They also interacted with Aıiska and Gagauz Turks living in Ukraine.
Turkey, Ukraine issue joint declaration on partnership
Meanwhile, Turkey and Ukraine on Dec. 18 issued a joint declaration expressing common intention to continue to develop and strengthen strategic partnership.
The declaration issued in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv following the 2-2 meeting in the quadriga format between foreign and defense ministers of Ukraine and Turkey called for exploring new avenues of cooperation between the two naval
"During the meeting, the parties confirmed their common intention to continue to develop and strengthen the relations of strategic partnership by implementing previously reached agreements and expanding the areas of cooperation, including political, cultural, economic and defense fields," according to Turkey's Foreign Ministry.
The parties noted the existence of threats and their implications for the stability and security of the "broader" Black Sea region.
They expressed the need to strengthen partnership based on international law and respect for the territorial integrity of states and their sovereignty within internationally recognized borders, the declaration said.