The final step has been reached in the preparations to evacuate Turkish citizens from Ukraine, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced Thursday.
“We have been working on the evacuation of our citizens from the very beginning. We are ready, but the airspace is currently closed,” Çavuşoğlu told an Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent during an interview.
Noting that the option to evacuate by land is on the table, Çavuşoğlu explained, “When the situation calms down, we will be able to take our citizens to Moldova, Romania, and Poland by land.”
The foreign minister added that there are also conflicts underway along the sea route, particularly in the Odessa region. While marine traffic is closed for the time being, Çavuşoğlu stated that once it reopens evacuations can be done via sea.
Agreements have been made with bus companies in Ukraine to evacuate citizens by land, he said, adding that countries like Poland, Moldova and Romania will not require visas from Turkish citizens and will waive COVID-19 measures during a possible land evacuation, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and COVID-19 certificates.
Unlike European Union countries, Turkey and Ukraine introduced a passport-free scheme between the two countries in 2017.
Ukraine’s health minister said late Thursday that at least 57 Ukrainian military personnel and civilians had been killed due to Russia’s military intervention in the country.
Çavuşoğlu also stressed that Turkey rejects Russia's military operation in Ukraine, which it considers a serious violation of international law in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.