Ukraine's foreign minister said Tuesday that NATO should focus on the Black Sea region, while underlining the importance of Turkey for the entire region.
The region is safe thanks to the presence of NATO and Turkey, Vadym Prystaiko said at a conference in London.
"The key to the Black Sea region is with our neighbor Turkey," he added.
He said that while NATO is focused on northern Europe and the Baltic countries, Ukraine protects NATO's eastern border.
Prystaiko added that Ukraine and Georgia were not invited to join NATO, which led Russia to first attack Georgia and then Ukraine.
NATO and Moscow remain divided over a number of issues, including separatists along Ukraine's border with Russia, the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and Russian interference in Western elections.
Turkey and Ukraine, two Black Sea neighbors, have deepened their trust and cooperation in political, economic, military and cultural aspects. Their bilateral relations have been gradually developing since Ukraine gained strategic partnership status with the establishment of the High-Level Strategic Council in 2011.
Speaking to Daily Sabah in an exclusive interview back in March, Ukrainian Ambassador to Ankara Andrii Sybiha highlighted the significant potential for more collaboration between the two countries on a wide range of issues. "The strategic alliance between the two countries has reached a very good point, based on the interests of both countries," he said.
Touching upon Ukraine's NATO and European Union accession talks, Sybiha said that membership in both blocs is the will of the Ukrainian people and the country will not backtrack from efforts to reach these targets.
The new government that took power in February 2014 committed to seeking membership in NATO and the EU after former President Viktor Yanukovych was dislodged following massive protests triggered by his refusal to sign an association agreement with the EU. Public opinion swayed considerably in favor of joining NATO following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its involvement in eastern Ukraine in 2014.