Turkey to pursue armistice in Ukraine

Turkey is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia, the Turkish ambassador to Kyiv said Friday.

“Turkey is perhaps one of the countries that produce the most concrete results for reaching a consensus between the parties in the field of diplomacy,” Ambassador Yağmur Ahmet Güldere said, adding that the meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul was the most productive of the negotiations held so far.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Güldere said that the Turkish Embassy has been working hard to evacuate civilians in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, adding that when serious security risks arose around Kyiv last month, the embassy temporarily shifted its activities to Chernivtsi on the Romanian border.

Stating that the embassy returned to Kyiv this week, Güldere said, “One of our main considerations when choosing the province of Chernivtsi was that it turned into a logistics center for us in these evacuation operations.”

The number of people that have been sent to Turkey and evacuated has reached 16,700, Güldere said, especially noting the productive work accomplished in Chernivtsi.

Pointing out that a convoy carrying 13 trucks of humanitarian aid from Turkey arrived in Chernivtsi last week and that Turkey has delivered 62 trucks of aid to Ukraine so far, Güldere said, “62 trucks are of course an important number, and now we have six trucks on the way.”

Güldere underlined that the embassy moved back to the capital at a time when the evacuation operations in Chernivtsi were almost complete and the security situation around Kyiv had improved.

Turkey’s Embassy in Kyiv returned to its original location and became operational as of Wednesday.

A number of countries, including the United States, Israel, the Netherlands and Hungary, have temporarily relocated their embassies from Kyiv to the western city of Lviv due to the ongoing war.

Ukraine last week said Russian forces were in the process of a “rapid retreat” from northern areas around the capital and the city of Chernihiv as the Red Cross launched a fresh evacuation effort from the besieged southern port of Mariupol.

Güldere also pointed out that the embassy’s return to Kyiv is extremely important as it fulfills a valuable function as Turkey’s official representation in Ukraine. But he warned civilians that conditions in Kyiv have yet to completely normalize and that it is very difficult to navigate in the capital due to security measures.

“There may be some, especially our citizens and businesspeople, who will say that the embassy has returned, and we should return too. I advise them to show a little more patience. Even though there is no serious security risk yet, it may be better not to hurry too much until a normal order is established in the city, a certain cease-fire is established, and perhaps the airspace is opened.”

Cease-fire efforts

Noting that Turkey has taken important diplomatic steps to ensure a permanent cease-fire in the ongoing war in Ukraine, Güldere said, “Of course, Turkey is perhaps one of the countries that produce the most concrete results for reaching a consensus between the parties in the field of diplomacy.”

The meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul was the most productive of the negotiations held so far, Güldere said, adding that they hope the issues discussed at the meeting will turn into a concrete text as soon as possible. On the basis of this text, first a solid and sustainable cease-fire and then peace would be established, he added.

“On the diplomatic front, Turkey is one of the most active countries. After the last negotiations in Istanbul, there was a movement again. We hope that the ongoing diplomacy lane will yield results as soon as possible,” he added.

Turkey expects direct negotiations on a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia to continue, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday, warning that the “unacceptable” scenes from Bucha have cast a shadow on the peace process.

Addressing reporters after a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Çavuşoğlu stated that he discussed the latest developments on the ground in Ukraine and the topic of potential guarantor countries.

“The images from Bucha, Irpin and other regions are unacceptable. These scenes have overshadowed the negotiations,” he said adding: “The emerging positive atmosphere, unfortunately, was overshadowed.”

“We are still hopeful and cautiously optimistic. At the same time, we are realistic,” Çavuşoğlu also said.

The minister reiterated that both sides are still open to the idea of meeting in Turkey for further peace talks.

Çavuşoğlu said that further meetings are expected in Turkey, likely first between the negotiating teams and then between the foreign ministers.

Turkey’s delicately balanced act of assuming a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Turkey has won widespread praise for its push to end the war.

Most recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his offer to host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks to secure peace between the two countries. Erdoğan voiced hope that a possible summit between the two leaders in Istanbul could bring an end to the war. He added that Putin and Zelenskyy need to take steps regarding Donbass and Crimea.

Conditions regarding these two regions are still obstacles between the two warring sides in negotiations, and Ukraine perceives Russian demands on the two regions as violations of its own territorial integrity.

The venue for a meeting between Putin and Zelenskyy would most likely be Turkey, Interfax Ukraine cited Ukrainian negotiator Davyd Arakhamia as saying last week. Putin and Zelenskyy are expected to meet in Turkey “with a high degree of probability,” the agency reported, citing Arakhamia. It said the negotiator told Ukrainian television that a time and place for a meeting had not been set.

Both sides have described the negotiations in recent weeks as difficult. The talks are a combination of face-to-face sessions in Turkey and virtual meetings.

In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29 as the war entered its second month with casualties piling up on both sides.

During the talks, Ukrainian officials signaled readiness to negotiate a “neutral status,” a key Russian demand, but demanded security guarantees for their country.

Russia, meanwhile, pledged to significantly decrease its military activities toward the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv to build trust for future negotiations.

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

Turkey also hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya last month. Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine met in the Turkish resort town of Antalya for talks, which Çavuşoğlu also attended. The talks were largely inconclusive, but Ankara views the fact that the talks took place at all as a success.