Turkiye will resolutely maintain its efforts for a permanent cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine, said the Turkish president on Monday.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Ankara with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkiye and Germany had agreed to step up diplomatic efforts to solve the Ukraine war crisis while also taking measures to protect European security.

Erdogan said Turkiye and Germany are determined to boost their bilateral trade volume to $50 billion. Germany is already the largest destination for Turkish exports.

German Chancellor Scholz also called on Russian President Putin to stop the war on Ukraine “now,” adding that protecting refugees is “our humanitarian responsibility.”

The war, which Russia began on Feb. 24, triggered a flood of Ukrainian refugees into other countries – 2.8 million at last count, according to the UN refugee agency.

Scholz also said closing the Turkish Straits to warships in line with the Montreux Convention is an important contribution to peace and thanked Turkiye for doing this.

Scholz underlined the importance of cooperation in the field of energy between the EU and Turkiye.

Scholz added that high-level dialogue formats between Turkiye and the EU will be activated.

Germany and its new government want to evaluate the potential for better relations with Turkiye, underlined Scholz, who took office last December, succeeding Angela Merkel’s 16-year turn as chancellor.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.

At least 596 civilians have been killed and 1,067 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN, while cautioning it is difficult to get accurate figures amid the fog of war.

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