Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said that Russia and Ukraine are getting ever closer to reaching an agreement, saying that an ‘understanding’ has been reached on four out of six central topics of disagreement during ongoing ceasefire negotiations. Earlier this month the Turkish leader emerged as a key high-level mediator helping with government-to-government talks, repeatedly expressing he hopes for a Putin-Zelensky face-to-face meeting.
After attending Thursday’s NATO emergency summit in Brussels, Erdogan described, “There are six topics of negotiation between Russia and Ukraine, there seems to be an understanding between them about four topics.”
“At first, Ukraine was hung up on this issue, but later on, Zelensky began to express that he could withdraw from NATO membership. Another issue is the acceptance of Russian as an official language. Zelensky also admitted this. Russian is a language spoken almost everywhere in Ukraine. There is no problem at this point either,” the Turkish president added.
Last week Zelensky had introduced a possible major obstacle to reaching a ceasefire deal by publicly announcing that any any final agreement would have to be taken up by the entire government, and presented to the Ukrainian people.
“I think Mr. Zelensky has displayed wise leadership with an understanding to take the issue to referendum by saying ‘That is a decision that must be made by the entire Ukrainian people’,” Erdoğan said, addressing the declaration.
Erdogan is holding a Friday phone call with Putin, of which he said “we should discuss and evaluate” NATO meetings, in reference to the Russian leader. “We have to look for a way to smooth this business by saying ‘make an honorable exit to this,'” Erdoğan said. “On the other hand, we [Turkey] certainly consider the use of weapons of mass destruction as a crime against humanity,” he added.
BREAKING — Erdogan says Ukraine and Russia reached an understanding on four of the six topics of disagreement
Somewhat agreed on:
• Partial disarmament
• Collective security
• Russian language
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) March 25, 2022
Erdogan is expected to convey to Putin, as he previewed in Brussels to reporters, “I will look for ways to end this issue by telling him to become an architect for peace and make an honorable exit.”
The Turkish leader also addressed media reports that the US had floated the idea of Turkey transferring its Russian S-400 anti-air defense systems to Ukraine. Erdogan suggested that it’s but a Washington attempt to “stir up trouble”…
“The S-400s are our property and this issue is a closed case,” Erdogan said.
He added the suggestion showed Americans were looking for ways to harass Ankara on the issue.
“They are in an effort on how to strike Turkey on this issue and put it in trouble,” he said.
Erdogan further said the focus should remain on finding a Russia-Ukraine peaceful resolution to the conflict, calling on Putin to again “Make an honorable breakthrough, to find a solution.”