Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he “trusts Russia as much as he trusts the West,” explaining that he “has no reason not to trust them,” in an interview he conducted with the American “PBS” late on Monday, reported by “Associated.” Press,
Yesterday (Monday), Erdogan attended the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and in explaining his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan indicated that he failed to persuade him to resume the Black Sea Grains Initiative, from which the Kremlin withdrew in July, but he achieved On a pledge from Russia to supply one million tons of grain to Africa.
He said: “As much as the West can be relied upon, Russia can be relied upon to the same extent. “For the past 50 years, we have been waiting on the doorstep of the European Union, and at this moment in time, I trust Russia as much as I trust the West.”
Ankara maintained close relations with both Russia and Ukraine during the 19-month war. In July last year, Turkey and the United Nations reached an agreement to allow Ukrainian grain to be shipped safely from its ports on the Black Sea, helping to alleviate the global food crisis.
Moscow withdrew from the agreement two months ago under the pretext of not respecting a parallel agreement that allows it to export food and fertilizers.
Erdogan is visiting New York four months after his election victory, which extended his 20-year rule for another five years. His new term has seen signs of improvement in Ankara’s often tense relationship with the West.
Speaking at an event yesterday, the Turkish leader appeared to walk back comments he made just before leaving for New York, in which he suggested that Turkey could end its 24-year bid for European Union membership.
Erdogan said, according to a transcript of the meeting published by his office: “We see that a window of opportunity has opened to revitalize relations between Turkey and the European Union at a critical period.”
He added: “We continue to stress the importance of revitalizing Turkey’s accession process to the European Union.”
Erdogan also pointed to improved relations with Washington, which recently focused on Ankara’s approval of Sweden’s request for membership in NATO and a possible deal to supply Turkey with F-16 fighter jets.
Erdogan said: “We are happy with the development of our cooperation with the United States.”
He added: “We resolved most of the impasse during the talks with (US President Joe) Biden and decided to hold further talks in line with the positive agenda.”
Turkey and Hungary are the only two members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that have not agreed to Sweden’s request to join the alliance, which Stockholm submitted in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Turkish Parliament is scheduled to discuss this issue when it returns from its vacation next month.
Some members of the US Congress indicated that providing F-16 aircraft to modernize the Turkish combat fleet depends on Ankara’s approval of Sweden’s membership in NATO.
But Erdogan reiterated that “these two issues should not be linked,” although he said that the decision on Sweden rests with the Turkish parliament, where his party and its allies have a majority.
He told PBS: “If Parliament does not take a positive decision on this offer, there will be nothing that can be done.”
Erdogan also drew a dividing line between Sweden’s request to join NATO and Turkey’s accession to the European Union. But in July, he called on European Union member states to “open the way for Turkey,” in exchange for opening Sweden’s way to join NATO.
He explained in an interview with the network, “Sweden’s position and our current position in the negotiations to join the European Union are two separate matters.”
Turning to the war in Ukraine and his contacts with Putin, Erdogan said that “it is quite clear that this war will continue for a long time,” but the Russian leader “was in favor of ending this war as soon as possible… This is what he said and I believe his statements.”