Ukraine deserves to be a member of NATO says Erdoğan in his meeting with Zelenskyy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan affirmed that Ukraine deserves to become a member of the NATO military alliance, holding a joint press conference with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Istanbul to discuss regional and global developments and bilateral ties on Friday.

“Ukraine deserves NATO membership,” Erdoğan told reporters, adding that Turkey has made the “most intensive efforts” to end the Russia-Ukraine war through negotiations on the basis of international law.

Erdoğan went on to say that Turkey will provide the necessary support to rebuild Ukraine. Regarding the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Erdoğan said he hopes the agreement, which expires on July 17, will be extended.

The Turkish president also urged both Russia and Ukraine to resume peace talks.bHe noted that he had held talks for the exchange of prisoners.

“We have heard from the president of the Ukrainian side regarding the prisoner exchange, and we are also in talks with the Russian side,” he said.

He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin may visit Turkey next month to discuss these issues.

Ankara has been hailed for its mediation in the conflict that broke out last year, striving to keep its ties with both sides intact. The efforts took a big step in September 2022, when the two sides exchanged 200 prisoners of war in Ankara.

President Erdoğan delivered the news in the United States, where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Among the exchanged POWs were members of the famous Ukrainian Azov battalion, including its commander and deputy. Russia was apparently stalling on the exchange of battalion members while Ukraine arrested Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and ally of President Putin, on charges of high treason.

The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) arranged talks between the parties on a prisoner swap in the capital Ankara after Russia requested it.

For his part, Zelenskyy said he was grateful to Turkey and President Erdogan for their unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity as well as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

He also noted that they would like to launch a peace initiative and that Turkey was willing to take a leading role.

After the one-on-one talks at the Vahdettin mansion, Erdoğan and Zelenskyy held inter-delegation meetings to discuss bilateral relations and regional and international affairs, including the latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine war, the Black Sea grain deal brokered by Turkey and the UN, which expires on July 17, and the guarantee of peace and stability in the Black Sea region.

A year ago, Turkey, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which had been halted after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022. A Joint Coordination Center (JCC) with officials from the three countries and the UN was set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.

Under the agreement, more than 32 million tons of grain have been transported to people in need, according to Turkish officials.

Russian authorities have strongly hinted that they might block the grain deal extension this month, complaining that some parts of the agreement to allow Russian exports have not been fulfilled.

Praised internationally for its unique role as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia, Turkey has repeatedly called on kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.

very important negotiations

After meeting with Erdoğan, Zelenskyy said that the negotiations are “very important.”

“Security, both in our Black Sea region and in Europe in general. I appreciate the support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” Peace formula. Protection of our countries, our people and our interests. Attention to the Vilnius summit, which is being prepared », he said on Twitter.

Zelenskyy added that they will also discuss the protection and development of the Black Sea grain agreement and new efforts for food security.

“The world must be protected from any kind of terror,” the Ukrainian leader urged.

Daily Sabah