Turkey’s Erdogan congratulates Putin, offers to mediate with Ukraine

Turkey’s Erdogan congratulates Putin, offers to mediate with Ukraine
Turkey’s Erdogan congratulates Putin, offers to mediate with Ukraine

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday congratulated Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on his re-election and offered to mediate between Moscow and Ukraine, the Turkish presidency announced. — AFP pic

ISTANBUL, March 19 —Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday congratulated Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on his re-election and offered to mediate between Moscow and Ukraine, the Turkish presidency announced.

In a telephone conversation, “President Erdogan expressed his belief that the positive evolution of relations between Turkey and Russia were continuing and stated that Turkey was ready to play a facilitator role to return to the negotiating table with Ukraine,” the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

It is not the first time that Erdogan has offered his services as a mediator in the war as he seeks to maintain friendly relations with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

All three countries have a coastline on the Black Sea, whose access Turkey controls through the Turkish Straits.

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Erdogan hosted Zelensky in Istanbul at the beginning of March, and Putin was due to visit Turkey in February before he called off the trip.

But Turkey’s top diplomat, Hakan Fidan, hit out at “dangerous” rhetoric coming from both Europe and Moscow.

“This war must end,” Fidan said in an interview with CNN Turk aired Monday evening.

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“On both sides, tens of thousands of mothers are burying their children and it’s continuing. Both sides have only too much to lose and nothing to gain,” he said.

Fidan said he feared “a risk of proliferation” in the region and warned that talking about “European troops, the nuclear threat, all of this is dangerous”.

Last month, French President Emanuel Macron refused to rule out putting Western troops on the ground in Ukraine, and over the weekend he doubled down on that idea, saying that Western ground operations in Ukraine might be necessary “at some point”.

Putin, meanwhile, warned last month of the possible use of nuclear weapons if Western nations decided to escalate the conflict.

“Turkey is one of the rare Nato countries calling for peace. Our president is calling for peace,” Fidan said. — AFP

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