Turkey’s priority civilian evacuations from Mariupol: Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has outlined Turkey’s priority in Ukraine, as the immediate evacuation of civilians from war-torn Mariupol, along with ending the war, informing that he will have a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.
Erdoğan responded to the questions of reporters in Istanbul on early May 2 after his prayer on the occasion of the first day of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
“I believe that the solution point for the problems concerning eastern Ukraine will be Turkey, either Istanbul or Ankara,” he said on a question about the situation in Ukraine. Recalling that his chief foreign policy adviser, İbrahim Kalın, paid a visit to Kiev to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Erdoğan informed that his adviser would also see Putin’s adviser, Yuri Ushakov, in the coming days.
“It’s probable that we will hold a conversation with Mr. Putin this week. We will exert efforts in a bid to accelerate the evacuations from Mariupol and at the same time to find a solution to this problem,” Erdoğan stressed.
The evacuation of the civilians constitutes an urgency, the president said, as Ankara sees that the humanitarian situation is getting worse in many places where heavy clashes between the warring parties escalate, including Mariupol and other provinces in eastern Ukraine.
“We will take all these steps, but it’s a fact that the leaders should come together. Our wish is to bring the two leaders either in Istanbul or Ankara,” he suggested.
Turkey has long been in contact with both countries at the level of presidents, foreign and defense ministers and bureaucrats to find a way to resolve the differences between the two countries and to sit around a table for peace. The foreign ministers of the two countries met in Antalya under the auspices of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, while the two delegations had meetings in Istanbul in early April.
Putin to support tourist flow to Turkey
Erdoğan, on a question about the impact of the ongoing war on Turkish tourism, said, “Mr. Putin is very sensitive on these issues and said he would do his best. In the meantime, there are positive developments concerning [tourists from] the Gulf region. Our latest trip to Saudi Arabia will provide a good result to this end. I believe the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia will increase.”
Informing that he discussed all the aspects of the Turkish-Saudi relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including cooperation in the field of tourism, Erdoğan suggested: “With more tourists from Saudi Arabia, I believe the tourism season will be very productive this year. Our tourism minister is working hard on these issues.”