Erdogan: Russia must return all seized territories to Ukraine to end the war
During the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a private conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"In Uzbekistan, I met with President Putin, and we had a fairly open conversation. And he actually made it clear to me that he was ready to end the conflict as soon as possible. That was my impression," Erdogan said in an interview for the American television channel PBS.
The Turkish President said that he strongly believes that in order to end the war in Ukraine, it is extremely important that Russia returns the seized territories to Ukraine, including the Crimea which was annexed in 2014.
"This is what needs to be done and what everyone expects. [UN Secretary-General] Guterres has made some efforts on this issue. There are steps that we have also taken. Since the Crimean Tatars are our compatriots, I told Putin that "if you take this step, you will satisfy us, Ukraine, and the Crimean Tatars." But, unfortunately, since then [in Russia] not a single step has been taken in this direction," Erdogan said.
Nevertheless, the Turkish President admitted that there are "certain positive developments."
"I see that they [the Russians] are making efforts to end this conflict as quickly as possible. Now, for example, an agreement has been reached on the exchange of 200 prisoners. This is a good trend. On the other hand, we and our allies are comprehensively engaged in agricultural issues. And this, of course, is also a positive course of events. But here it is important that Ukraine shows the same attitude with Russia in order to stop this conflict, this war," the Turkish leader said.
In his opinion, to resolve all controversial issues, a personal meeting of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin is necessary. However, despite all the attempts of the Turkish side to organize a direct dialogue between them, it has not yet been possible to do this.
"I really want to arrange a meeting for them. We have not yet achieved success, but I do not lose hope," Erdogan said.
When asked by a journalist whether Putin realizes that he miscalculated the will and scale of the resistance of the Ukrainian people, Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that "no leader admits his mistake after he made a step."
The Turkish President also stressed that there can be no justification for Russia's invasion of the neighboring state.
"However, the cause-and-effect relationship in what is happening can only be explained by the presidents of Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, Turkey adheres to a balanced policy and is ready to listen to both sides," Erdogan said.
"We are talking with both Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelensky. The UN Secretary-General is also in touch with both leaders. What does that mean? If we want to achieve results, we must speak to both leaders, not stand on the side of one of them. This is extremely important, because people are dying not only from the Ukrainian side, but also from the Russian side," the Turkish president concluded.