A “serious and genuine conversation” is underway between Russia and Western countries, and Turkiye is willing to contribute to the elimination of differences between Russia and Ukraine, Turkiye’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Tuesday. 

Kalin’s remarks came at an online webinar titled ‘Russia-Ukraine Tension: What is at Stake for Europe and NATO?’ organized by the Circle Foundation.

He underlined that the dialogue between the West and Russia should have started a long time ago but the Russia-NATO Council meetings were disrupted with the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2015.

Kalin said Russia-Ukraine tensions have been building and Turkiye follows these developments “with a lot of concern…because there’s a lot at stake here.”

“But first of all, let me just state very clearly that we do not want to see any kind of military action, confrontation or war in Ukraine or between Russia and Ukraine,” he said.

Pointing out that Turkiye fully supports the territorial integrity, political sovereignty and social cohesion of Ukraine, Kalin said “we are telling both sides, both Ukrainians and the Russians, to use restraint, to refrain from any kind of military engagement.”

Kalin said Ukraine’s security concerns should be taken seriously and that “we do not want to see any kind of war, military confrontation or action on the ground.”

He reminded that Ukrainians “have paid a price…by losing Crimea, (through) the illegal annexation of Crimea, which we all have denounced and not accepted.”

“What kind of demands are out there to redefine or to maintain the geopolitical parameters of the current state of affairs?” Kalin said.

“I believe…they are just at the beginning of a new type of negotiation, or the conversation is like a serious one, a genuine one, not one in, say, Russia and a certain number of countries, but between Russia and the Western allies, particularly of course, NATO. But also there are other non-NATO members in Europe who are rightly concerned about what’s happening there.

“So I think we are at the very beginning of this new process. So we really have to take kind of a longer view of what may happen, say, you know, this year or the next couple of years.”

Turkiye’s efforts

Kalin said “it’s really rather counterproductive that this dialogue between Russia and the Western alliance is taking place under the pressure of the Ukrainian issue right now.”

“There are no quick fixes for these kind of large, long-term geopolitical issues, because…yes, it is about Ukraine. But in another sense, it’s something…much larger, much, much bigger at stake here,” he added.

Kalin said Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been talking with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“In fact, he even invited both of them to come to Turkiye, if they want to have a meeting there, sort out their issues and differences,” he said.

He added that “Turkiye remains available for any role…to lower tensions between Russia and Ukraine.”

“And we do this as Turkiye, as a friendly country to both Russia and Ukraine, but also as a NATO ally.”

“In fact, in the next couple of weeks, President Erdogan will be travelling to Ukraine to hold talks with President Zelensky there, but also we will remain in close contact with the Russians to avoid any kind of military action, whose consequences of course will be great and irreversible.

“So we all have to do whatever we can to avoid that kind of situation.”

British lawmaker Daniel Kawczynski, who was also present as a speaker at the webinar, said Russia can be dealt with more effectively by strengthening ties within NATO.

Former British Prime Minister “Margaret Thatcher and (former US President) Ronald Reagan taught us in 1984 that the only way that you can actually deal with the Russians is through a position of strength,” he said.

Reminding that Britain is no longer a member of the EU, Kawczynski added that the UK and Turkiye, as two NATO allies, can go for further cooperation in many fields, including trade, and strengthen relations.

Also attending the webinar, former US ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer said the Western allies should do everything they can “to deter Russia from using military power against Ukraine.”

Pifer also said that limiting the size and scope of missiles in Europe mutually by the West and Russia might constitute a basis for further dialogue.

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