Turkey remains in close contact with both Ukraine and Russia to find a solution to the ongoing war and expects other countries, especially NATO allies, to support its diplomatic initiatives within this scope, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun underlined.
"The scope and content of the (grain export) agreement signed in Istanbul are clear. Of course, all parties are expected to take the steps to ensure the complete implementation of this agreement in a timely manner. As we have done so far, Turkey will be in close contact with both Ukraine and Russia," Altun said in an interview with Spanish daily El Mundo that was published on Thursday.
Turkey, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul last week to reopen three Ukrainian ports – Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny – to release grain that had been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.
Under the deal, a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul was formed to carry out inspections at the entrances and exits of harbors and to ensure the safety of the routes.
Turkey will mobilize its influence in the region to ensure peace and stability, Altun said.
"I don't think diplomacy has ever been easy. Of course, it is much more difficult to make diplomatic contacts during the war. The states have different priorities and perspectives. The important thing was to find a common ground and prevent crises that threaten the whole world. Overall, we appreciate that Ukraine and Russia as sovereign states supported this initiative," he added.
Altun also hailed Turkey’s mediation between Moscow and Kyiv, saying no NATO country had ever succeeded in brokering such a historic deal between the two countries.
"Turkey's success is also recorded in NATO's name. Since the beginning of the crisis, we have focused on extinguishing the fire in our region," he added.
Altun noted that Turkey is a country that can talk to both Russia and Ukraine during the war period, adding: "Therefore, we expect all states, especially our NATO allies, to support our diplomatic efforts."
Turkey is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. Its delicately balanced act of assuming a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Turkey has won widespread praise for its push to end the war.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them.
In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29 as the war entered its second month, with casualties piling up on both sides. Turkey also hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya in March and hosted four-way meetings recently in Istanbul between Moscow, Ankara, Kyiv and the United Nations with the aim of solving the grain crisis.