31-03-2022 14:48:15

"Turkiye would like to host meeting at level of foreign ministers or heads of state,"

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu attends Turkish news channel A Haber live interview on Thursday.

Ukraine and Russia have announced that both sides could hold another high-level meeting in a week or two, said Turkiye's foreign minister on Thursday as Ankara leads efforts to end the ongoing war through diplomacy.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told news channel A Haber that Turkiye would like to host the meeting at the level of foreign ministers – like a March 10 meeting also hosted by Turkiye – or the heads of state level.

Noting that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in constant contact with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu said: “The most meaningful result was obtained in Istanbul … It's not over. Here, a consensus, a common understanding was reached on some issues.”

'Russia not against Turkiye, Germany’s guarantor role'

On Turkiye’s potential role as guarantor state for a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia, Cavusoglu said that taking up this role does not mean entering war.

“The reports that Russia opposes the guarantorship of Western countries are not true," he said.

Noting that even during his visit to Moscow, the Russian side said that they are not against the UN Security Council's five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the US, and UK – plus Germany and Turkiye being guarantors, Cavusoglu added the countries were mentioned during peace talks in Istanbul between the parties this week.

Cavusoglu said Ukraine’s proposal of guarantors may lead to rapprochement with Russia in the future.

Noting that the introduction of NATO's famed Article 5 for collective defense was with the consensus of all countries, he said that even if this article in invoked, contracting parties could determine the form of support.

In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations on Tuesday met for peace talks in Istanbul as the war entered its second month.

Ukraine wants to see countries, including Turkiye, as guarantors in a deal with Russia, a Ukrainian negotiator said after the talks.

Turkiye has won widespread praise for its efforts to end the war, helped by its unique position in having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine.

On March 10, it hosted the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the southern resort city of Antalya, the highest-level meeting of the two sides since the war began on Feb. 24.

The Russia-Ukraine war has been met with international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,189 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, including 108 children, and 1,901 others injured, according to estimates by the UN, which cautioned that the true figure is likely far higher.

More than 4 million Ukrainians have also fled to several European countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency.

‘NATO, EU seeking to remove defense sanctions on Turkiye’

NATO and the EU have developed an understanding that seeks the lifting of restrictions on Turkiye in the area of defense, Cavusoglu said.

On the US sanctions on Turkiye, Cavusoglu said: "The F-35 issue is still stuck, but negotiations on the acquisition of the next generation F-16s and the modernization of existing F-16s are continuing and are going well."

Turkiye was suspended from the F-35 fighter jet program in 2019 in a dispute over it buying Russian missile defense, but Turkiye said it is still owed fighter jets or a refund after the unfair suspension.

Turkiye bought the Russian S-400 system after its effort to buy US or European missile defense were rebuffed.

Supplying advanced F-16s or F-16 modernization kits is being explored as a possible solution.

Cavusoglu said that the US Congress should be persuaded on this issue, adding; "It’s not right to hide behind Congress every time."

Saying that Turkiye should not be criticized for seeking alternatives to meet its needs from elsewhere if it cannot meet its needs from its allies, he said Europe and the US must take a fairer approach.

Noting that India also bought the Russian S-400, Cavusoglu said: "If you can make an exception there, you should show the same understanding to Turkiye.”