The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called for a de-escalation of tension in Ukraine and said that his country desires a “peaceful” Black Sea.
His statements came during a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky following the Ninth meeting of the High-Level Strategic Council.
“Our main goal is that the Black Sea continues to be a sea of peace, tranquility and cooperation. We do not want an escalation of tension in our common geography in any way.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
He stated that during the meeting with Zelensky, Turkey strongly defended Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“We reaffirmed our principled stance of not recognizing the annexation of Crimea,” the president added.
Erdogan said that Turkey supports the Crimean Platform, the initiative of Ukraine, which aims to bring the international community together on Crimea.
“We hope that this initiative will have positive results for all the Crimean peoples, including the Crimean Tatars, Crimea, and Ukraine in general,” he said.
Peaceful and diplomatic solution
The Ukrainian Head of State said that he had informed the Turkish side in detail about the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Crimea.
The Turkish President called for a “peaceful and diplomatic” solution to the ongoing crisis.
“We believe that the current crisis must be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means, based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine and international law,” Erdogan added.
“We hope that the worrying escalation we have observed in the field recently would end as soon as possible, the cease-fire will continue, and the conflict would be resolved through dialogue based on Minsk agreements,” he said.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine continues and should continue the task it has undertaken to continue the cease-fire and to establish stability under difficult conditions in the Donbas region, Erdogan added.
The Turkish president stressed the cooperation between the two countries is by no means an initiative against third countries.
He also said that the defence industry constitutes another important dimension in Turkey-Ukraine relations.
Ukraine pleased to have "reliable neighbour"
Zelensky, for his part, praised Turkey's “extremely important” support for Ukraine's territorial integrity.
"I was happy to hear from the President about the continuation of such support and the invariability of Turkey's position in the future," he said.
He said that the defence industry was the driving force behind the Turkish-Ukrainian strategic partnership.
“Ukraine is pleased to have a reliable neighbour, even if our border is the sea,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter following the news conference.
The two leaders also discussed cooperation in the field of aircraft manufacturing. “This is extremely important for both countries,” he said.
Crimean Platform and Housing project
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also told his Turkish counterpart about human rights violations on the Crimean peninsula and its ongoing militarization. He also thanked Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his willingness to join the Crimean Platform format.
"This will be a strong signal that Ukraine and its partners are determined to de-occupy the Ukrainian peninsula and protect the rights of the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar people," said the President of Ukraine.
An agreement signed on housing construction, Zelensky said, was a project that brings the people of Turkey and Ukraine closer.
Following the news conference, the two sides released a 20-item joint declaration and vowed to “strengthen strategic partnership” between the two countries.
Earlier, Erdogan and Zelensky held a three-hour private meeting at the Huber Mansion in Istanbul.