Work underway for exchange of Russian, Ukrainian hostages: Erdoğan

Work underway for exchange of Russian, Ukrainian hostages: Erdoğan

Work underway for exchange of Russian, Ukrainian hostages: Erdoğan

An agreement has been reached to exchange 200 hostages in the Russia-Ukraine war, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 19, noting his impression was that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to end this conflict as soon as possible.

“In Uzbekistan, I got together with President Putin and had extensive discussions with him. I realized that he is trying to end this [war] as soon as possible. Because the way things are going right now is quite problematic,” Erdoğan said in an interview with the U.S. TV show PBS NewsHour.

“At this point, for example, an agreement was reached on the exchange of 200 hostages. This is a good development. Because with these hostages, a significant step will be taken forward. Currently, colleagues are managing its technical dimension. With this, we will have achieved a good development,” he added.

Stating that if peace between Russia and Ukraine is to be achieved, the return of the lands is of great importance, Erdogan said, “ This is what is expected. This is what is wanted. There are steps taken by Mr. Guterres in this regard. There are steps we have taken. Providing return [of lands] really makes our work easier.”

Asked about his statement that Türkiye might join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and if he wanted the country to be a part of the east or a part of the west, Erdoğan said, “I have to say this very clearly, we are part of the world, neither east nor west… For us, a large part of our country geographically belongs to the east. The part that belongs to the west is separate.”

But the European Union has stalled Türkiye’s accession process for a long time, he recalled.

“There is no other country in the European Union that is in our situation. They still keep stalling. However, we are a NATO country. Even though we are a NATO country, even NATO countries stall us off in the European Union process,” he stated.

Türkiye is among the top five with the support provided within NATO, Erdoğan emphasized. “It is undoubtedly very meaningful for us that Türkiye, which has such a strong position, is kept aside with such distraction tactics. Inevitably, we may be in a situation of entering into different pursuits,” he added.

Elaborating on the bilateral ties between Türkiye and the United States, the president said the cooperation of two NATO allies in the defense industry was not at the desired level.

“For example, we have the outstanding issue of F-16s. We have procured F-16s from the United States. But instead, certain political decisions are being made, resulting in the imposition of sanctions upon Türkiye. This is not very becoming of two friendly countries such as the U.S. and Türkiye.”

Erdoğan said they had spoken to the Republicans and had received their support. “If we can’t get the results out of the United States about the F-16s, what are we going to do? Of course, we’re going to take care of ourselves,” he added.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan held a series of high-level meetings in New York, where he is paying a visit to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

He met Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), representatives of the umbrella organizations of the American Jewish community, along with Mohammad Younes Menfi, the head of Libya’s High Council of State, Rashad al-Alimi, the chair of Yemen’s presidential council, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.

TURKEY, Diplomacy,