President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks came after Russia and Ukraine exchanged 200 prisoners as a result of Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic efforts conducted with the leaders of the two countries.
Hailing the prisoners swap between Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara will continue its efforts to ensure peace between the two countries.
"Our efforts to establish peace between Russia and Ukraine continue. I thank (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy for enabling the prisoner exchange... This development made us very happy," Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday at the Turkevi Center in New York.
Erdogan's remarks came right after Russia and Ukraine exchanged 200 prisoners of war as a result of Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic efforts conducted with the leaders of the two countries.
"Türkiye has now received the result of its belief in the power of dialogue and diplomacy with this prisoners exchange," he added.
Erdogan said he will hold phone calls with Putin and Zelenskyy as soon as he returned from New York, where the Turkish president addressed the UN General Assembly.
He added that the UN should take initiative and make more efforts to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
READ MORE: Erdogan: Russia, Ukraine swap 200 POWs under Türkiye's mediation
President Erdogan on Russia-Ukraine conflict:— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 22, 2022
- Türkiye-brokered swap of prisoners is an important step to ending the war
- Our role as a global mediator, diplomatic leadership compels us to take more initiative
- UN could not end the war, could not stop the bloodshed pic.twitter.com/xpFRMYQnki
Ankara's 'only aim' to end bloodshed
"Unfortunately, the UN could not end the war, could not stop the bloodshed, nor could it find a solution to the energy and food crises that emerged as a result of the war.
"The efforts of UN Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) to establish the grain corridor on this issue have somewhat reassured the UN, but there is no doubt that more efforts should be made to end the war," Erdogan said.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to restart grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February.
Ankara's "only aim" is to end bloodshed and to establish peace since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February, Erdogan said.
"We have always expressed our commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
"Since the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, we have emphasised that the steps taken by Russia at this point are unfair and unacceptable," he said.
Erdogan said Türkiye is in favour of diplomacy to resolve crisis and outstanding issues.
READ MORE: UNGA: Erdogan seeks 'dignified way out' of Russia-Ukraine conflict
During his address on Tuesday, Erdogan called out Greece for its “persecution” of migrants in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, saying: "Greece is turning the Aegean Sea into a graveyard for refugees with its unlawful and reckless pushbacks."
Erdogan said it is impossible to not be moved after seeing those painful photos.
"We wanted to teach the world a lesson in humanity by showing the photos of the dead bodies of these babies, and I believe we have taught this lesson in humanity."
Ankara and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing asylum seekers back into Turkish waters and denying them entry, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
During his speech at the UN, Erdogan also urged the international community to make efforts to end the oppression of Turkish Cypriots, and to officially recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as soon as possible.
Erdogan said he discussed the Northern Cyprus issue with Putin, saying: "We reiterated our rightful struggle in Cyprus and the just and lasting resolution of the issue to all the leaders we hosted in our country or visited."
READ MORE: Türkiye rescues hundreds of refugees in Eastern Mediterranean
Erdogan on UN Security Council:— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) September 22, 2022
- There should not be ‘permanent and temporary’ status, there should be only one type of membership
- We ask why we are not at Security Council, like Japan and Germany are
- All countries in the world should take place on a rotating basis pic.twitter.com/S28GmZHsPT
Two private Turkish banks, Denizbank and Isbank, suspended use of Mir card, a Russian payment system for electronic fund transfers, this week after the US expanded its sanctions on Russia.
Erdogan was asked whether Türkiye's companies and some banks are under close scrutiny, including the use of credit cards, after the EU and the US, both expanded embargo and sanctions on Russia.
"The most important point is Mir card. This was a step between us and Russia. We are evaluating the steps to be taken on this issue with our related friends. I hope we will take our steps accordingly. Of course, we have an alternative that's different.
"However, the whole problem is that there are different versions of these sanctions. These, of course, do not really suit friendship, they do not suit the regulation of our economic relations," he said.
Erdogan said he will convene a top-tier economy-focused meeting where Mir and possible Western sanctions will be discussed on Friday.