Ukraine: Turkey pleads for “localized ceasefires”

Turkey is more than ever ready to offer its mediation to kyiv and Moscow to get out of the war and to promote if necessary “localized ceasefire” agreements while waiting for a more favorable moment for a broad peace agreement.

This is the proposal put forward on Saturday by one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s close advisers, Ibrahim Kalin, for whom neither Russia nor Ukraine “is in a position to win militarily”.

“Maybe in a month or two we will have a better chance, but until then Turkey intends to push for local ceasefires and small-scale de-escalation,” Ibrahim said. Kalin, who is also the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, in front of international media including AFP.

“At the moment, neither side wants to stop fighting, but we must continue to call on them,” he said, convinced that “in the end, they will have to negotiate to reach a solution. acceptable” to all.

Since the beginning of the conflict on February 24, Turkey, a member of NATO, has managed to maintain good relations with the two belligerents and offers its mediation to end the war, “the worst international challenge since the Second World War “, Mr. Kalin insisted.

“We have already had some successes,” he said, referring to the agreement signed last summer on Ukrainian grain exports to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus (nearly 18 million tonnes exported to date). and the facilitation of exchanges of prisoners of war.

– “A much larger puzzle” –

“But it’s not enough (…), only a small part of a much larger puzzle”, admitted Mr. Kalin while President Erdogan continues to meet regularly with the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.

For Mr. Kalin, any peace agreement will have to be “broader” and involve the “main actors” international like the United States and the European Union.

“Russia wants to be respected as a major player and to obtain security guarantees, in particular that NATO will not enter its backyard,” he said. While “Ukraine would not integrate NATO but would also receive security guarantees at its borders”.

“Russia wants a new international architecture”, judge Mr. Kalin; “the war cannot end on the terms of the major (Western) powers: any peace plan that does not involve (Moscow) would be doomed to failure”.

“What happened over the last ten years (before the war, editor’s note) must be taken into account”, he noted, hoping that “this conversation will start as soon as possible because there are questions really difficult to solve”, in particular the modalities for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the 18% of occupied Ukrainian territory.

Mr. Kalin also defended the position of Turkey which refrained from joining the Western sanctions against Russia, believing that they led to nothing.

– “Sabotage” –

“They would have damaged our economy”, which is closely dependent on gas but also on Russian tourists, he argued. “And if the goal was to remove Mr. Putin, we don’t see anything like that happening.”

The easternmost member of NATO, Turkey also holds the key to its enlargement to Sweden and Finland, two neighbors of Russia who have been knocking on the door of the Atlantic Alliance since the spring.

But after a new incident this week, Ankara is “not in a position” to ratify Sweden’s membership as it stands, pleaded Mr. Kalin.

Ankara denounced a video made by a group close to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Stockholm showing President Erdogan hanged. The Swedish ambassador was summoned by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Mr. Kalin denounced the incidents which occur after seven months of negotiations with these two Nordic countries and the signing, in June, of a memorandum of understanding.

“We want to move forward and progress but if these kinds of incidents continue, it will slow down the process,” he warned.

Describing the incident this week as an attempt at “sabotage”, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström on Saturday wrote to AFP in response to Mr. Kalin’s statements, saying that Sweden has already committed to “all points of the agreement” and “will continue to implement it”.

“It is up to Turkey to take a decision regarding the ratification of the accession protocols of Sweden and Finland,” he added.

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