Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke over the phone with his U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken late Tuesday to discuss several issues, including Turkey’s diplomatic efforts to solve the Russia-Ukraine tensions.
Çavuşoğlu told his counterpart about Turkey's attempts to reduce the tension between Russia and Ukraine through dialogue, said a statement by the Foreign Ministry.
According to a statement released by Washington, Blinken emphasized the commitment of the two countries to Ukraine's territorial integrity and stated that they closely followed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's initiative for a diplomatic solution.
World leaders, including Erdoğan, are working to resolve the row peacefully. Towards that end, Turkey has offered to host a peace summit between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine.
Russia recently massed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor. Moscow has denied that it is preparing to invade and said its troops are there for exercises. The Kremlin also issued a list of security demands from the West, including a rollback of troop deployments to some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will not join NATO.
Ankara has previously offered to help defuse the standoff and Turkish diplomatic sources have said both Russia and Ukraine were open to the idea. Turkey has opposed the sanctions threatened by other NATO members in response to a military incursion by Russia.
Turkey shares the Black Sea with Ukraine and Russia. Erdoğan has said the conflict would be unacceptable in the region and warned Russia that an invasion would be unwise.
If Turkey is assigned a mediator role following the meeting with Putin, Ankara will accept the offer to help in the Ukrainian crisis in this capacity and will try to do its part, Erdoğan said Friday. Speaking to reporters on his way back from Ukraine where he met with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Erdoğan said that the Western countries were unable to contribute to the solution to the Ukraine-Russia tensions and there are no European leaders fit to resolve it.
Erdoğan’s visit to Turkey’s fellow Black Sea nation came after visits to Kyiv by leaders of NATO members Britain, Poland and the Netherlands amid the standoff. Turkey has good ties with Kyiv and Moscow but has said it would do what is necessary as a NATO member if Russia invades.
On developments in northern Syria, along Turkey's southern border, Çavuşoğlu also pointed to the separatist activities of the terrorist PKK's Syrian branch YPG and its attacks on local civilians. He said Turkey's fight against this terrorist group will continue with determination.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S., Turkey and the European Union, and Washington's support for its Syrian affiliate has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara. The U.S. primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the YPG's presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.' support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and that terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally's security concerns. Underlining that one cannot support one terrorist group to defeat another, Turkey conducted its own counterterrorism operations, over the course of which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.
The two diplomats also discussed the latest developments in the Caucasus and the ongoing rapprochement process between Turkey and Armenia, focusing on possible steps that can be taken by the U.S. to support the process.
Çavuşoğlu also invited Blinken to the Antalya Diplomacy Forum set to be held in southern Turkey on March 11-13.
The Antalya Diplomacy Forum will be held on March 11-14 in southern Antalya province, under the motto “Recoding Diplomacy” and will be attended by several heads of state, ministers, academics and members of the press. The gathering, where the most important regional and global issues on the world’s agenda will be discussed in a solution-oriented platform, will provide leaders, politicians, prominent academics, thinkers, opinion leaders, diplomats and business people an opportunity to discuss international issues from a diplomatic perspective.