Turkish, Ukrainian presidents discuss developments in region, bilateral relations in Kyiv
KRAMATORSK, Ukraine / ANKARA (AA) – Turkiye is ready to do its part to end tensions between Ukraine and Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Erdogan’s remarks came at a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
Before the presser, the two leaders discussed developments in the region and bilateral relations for over three hours.
“I have emphasized that Turkiye would be glad to host a summit (between Russia and Ukraine) at leaders level, or discussions at technical level,” Erdogan said.
“I want to reiterate that we continue to support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, including Crimea,” he said, adding that Ankara attaches importance to the role of OSCE Ukraine Special Monitoring Mission in Donbass conflict.
On the economy front, Erdogan said they exchanged views on steps to increase the trade volume to $10 billion, and the newly signed free trade agreement (FTA) would have positive impact in this regard.
The leaders’ meeting coincided with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkiye and Ukraine. Following the one-on-one meeting, the 10th High-Level Strategic Council meeting was also held with participation of accompanying delegations.
Turkish and Ukrainian sides have signed a total of eight cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding.
The FTA was signed by Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Mus and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. Last year, the bilateral trade volume between the two countries jumped 59% to $7.4 billion.
Zelensky said signing of the FTA is a “historic event” and also thanked Erdogan for his offer to act as a mediator in ending tensions between Moscow and Kyiv.
He added that the newly signed defense agreements will expand production of drones by Turkish defense firm Baykar in Ukraine.
The Bayraktar TB2 has been sold to countries including Ukraine, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Poland. In May last year, Poland became the first EU and NATO member state to acquire drones from Turkiye.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces first purchased Bayraktar TB2 UAVs and ground control stations from Turkiye in 2019.
Ukraine and Russia have been locked in conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia has also recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.
Moscow has denied it is preparing to invade, saying its troops are there for exerci