After meeting the Ukrainian President and the UN chief, the Turkish President hopes the Ukraine conflict will end at the negotiating table, while stressing that a Türkiye-brokered grain deal has benefitted the whole world.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed possible ways of ending the Ukraine conflict in a trilateral meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres.
After Thursday's talks in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, Erdogan said the fighting between Russia and Ukraine will eventually end at the negotiating table, adding that Zelenskyy and Guterres had a similar view.
"What matters is finding the shortest and fairest way to the negotiating table," he told the press after the summit, calling on the international community to take more responsibility in reaching a political solution.
"While continuing our efforts to find a solution, we remain on the side of our Ukraine friends," Erdogan said, stressing that Türkiye supports Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
He said Türkiye, which has taken the lead in mediating between Kiev and Moscow, will discuss the outcome of Thursday's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian side.
The Turkish president said the exchange of prisoners was discussed in the trilateral meeting. "Türkiye attaches great importance to this issue," he said.
Erdogan also expressed concerns over fighting near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that Russia took control of days after sending its troops into Ukraine on February 24.
"We do not want to experience a new Chernobyl," Erdogan said.
Kiev and Moscow have traded accusations over a series of strikes this month on or near the Zaporizhzhia plant — Europe's largest.
Türkiye's President Erdogan:— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) August 18, 2022
- War will eventually end at negotiating table
- Türkiye temporarily hosting nearly 325,000 Ukrainians
- Exchange of prisoners of war discussed pic.twitter.com/VV8AQDOqkZ
Landmark grain deal
Erdogan also spoke on the resumption of Ukrainian grain export under a Türkiye-brokered deal.
"Not only Ukraine, but the whole world has begun feeling positive effects of historic Istanbul deal to resume Ukrainian grain exports," he said.
Since August 1 — when the first grain ship left Ukraine — some 625,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain have been delivered to world markets through 25 ships, Erdogan added.
Ankara coordinated with Moscow and Kiev to open a sea corridor from Ukraine for the exports, drawing international praise for its mediator role in a breakthrough that is expected to ease global food shortages.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed the landmark agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume the exports from three Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.
"During our trilateral meeting, we also evaluated the possibilities of transforming the positive atmosphere created by the Istanbul agreement into permanent peace," Erdogan said.
UN chief Guterres urged Russia and Ukraine to show a "spirit of compromise" and ensure the continued success of the grain deal.
"From day one, the parties have worked professionally and in good faith to keep the food flowing. I appeal for this to continue and for them to overcome all obstacles in a spirit of compromise and permanently settle all difficulties," he said.
Guterres asked Russia to withdraw military equipment and personnel from the Zaporizhzhia plant, calling for efforts to ensure it did not become the target of military operations.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy too said Russia must immediately withdraw its troops from Zaporizhzhia and end what he described as "provocations".
He also said Türkiye and Erdogan played a "leading role" in the grain deal, which has helped tackle the global food crisis.
But Zelenskyy ruled out peace with Russia unless it withdraws its troops from Ukraine. "First they should leave our territory and then we'll see," he said.