Turkey calls for mediation between Ukraine and Russia, signaling agreement with Syria
As NATO escalates its war against Russia in Ukraine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the Ukrainian city of Lvov on Thursday.
During the summit, which was held nearly two weeks after an August 5 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Erdoğan reportedly discussed diplomatic initiatives to end the war, exchange prisoners of war, prosecute grain ship deliveries from Ukraine and arrange a visit to Zaporizhzhia. nuclear power plant by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Erdoğan said: “The main topic of our meeting was of course the war, which has been going on for almost six months.” He also reiterated his government’s support for “the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”.
Regarding Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, currently seized by Russia, Erdoğan said: “We have also expressed our concerns about the conflicts taking place around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. We don’t want to experience another Chernobyl.
“The zone must be demilitarized, and we must say it as it is: any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” António Guterres told a press conference. On Friday, Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to organize a mission of International Atomic Energy Agency officials to visit the plant.
In a Telegram post, Zelensky said, “We have agreed to continue coordinating the implementation of the grain initiative.” Four more ships have left Ukrainian ports as part of the July 22 Istanbul Grain Export Agreement between Russia and Ukraine brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, Turkey’s Ministry of Health said on Sunday. defense.
Reiterating his call for a meeting of Ukrainian and Russian leaders in Turkey, Erdoğan said ending the war was the focus of the trilateral meeting in Lvov. He hailed the Istanbul agreement in July as “an exemplary work of historical significance”.
Although Erdoğan called for a “diplomatic solution”, he underlined Ankara’s support for Ukraine in the conflict: “As Turkey, we are making efforts to end the conflicts through diplomatic means, everything continuing to support our Ukrainian friends”.
Ankara condemned the Russian invasion and armed Ukraine with Bayraktar drones. However, Turkey has not adhered to the harsh US and EU sanctions against Moscow and has significantly increased its trade with Russia since the start of the war. This has raised fears in Western capitals that Russia is using Turkey to evade their sanctions.
In an article titled “Increasing Turkish exports to Russia raises fears in the West of a rapprochement”, the FinancialTimes(FT) wrote: “Turkey’s exports to Russia have increased by 46% in value in the last three months compared to the same period last year, as Ankara has allowed its companies to fill the void created by the exodus of Western companies”.
Quoting two European Union officials, he said: “EU member states are increasingly concerned about the growing trade between Turkey and Russia and the possibility of it helping Moscow as a as a substitute for other European imports and exports”. An official told the FT: “It’s on our radar. … It’s not nice and not well received by the EU. It’s an irritant.”
Fearing the potentially devastating consequences of an escalation of the NATO war against Russia, with which it has strong commercial and military ties, including in the field of energy, Ankara is also facing an economic crisis which worsens at home and growing opposition from the working class. With elections slated for next year, polls for the Erdoğan government are down sharply. She believes that improved trade with Russia and potential financial assistance from Moscow will help contain this domestic crisis.
In Lvov, Erdoğan said: “Personally, I remain convinced that the war will eventually end at the negotiating table. Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Guterres are in fact of the same opinion on this question. … I believe that it is possible to relaunch the negotiations on the basis of the parameters that emerged in March in Istanbul. We are ready to provide any kind of support in this regard and again play a facilitating or mediating role.
However, Washington and its European NATO allies do not want the war to end before Russia is brought to its knees. In April, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu highlighted Ankara’s growing rift with its NATO allies, saying: “Until the NATO meeting, we thought the war would not last. long time. However, after the NATO meeting, an opinion emerged. There are countries that want this war to continue. They want Russia to be weakened, back down and maybe bring down Putin.
Conflicts are building up behind the scenes. Ankara eventually lifted its objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO to fight Russia, denouncing Finnish and Swedish support for Kurdish nationalist groups. On Saturday, however, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Sweden and Finland could not join NATO unless they extradite “members of terrorist organizations” to Turkey.
Ankara’s overtures to Russian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom it has been trying to oust since 2011, risk sparking new conflicts with Turkey’s NATO allies. After Erdoğan’s meeting with Putin in Sochi, Çavuşoğlu said he met Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad “on the shoe” last October in Brussels. He called for “political reconciliation” between Damascus and the so-called Syrian “opposition” as the only way out. He also said that the Kremlin wanted to organize an Assad-Erdoğan meeting.
“We have no eye on Syrian territory. … We have no interest in defeating or not defeating Assad,” Erdoğan said on his return from Lvov.
In fact, since 2016, Turkey has launched several military operations against the US-backed Kurdish nationalist People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, occupying much of the area to prevent the YPG from build a separate Kurdish state. Turkey, with its Syrian Islamist proxies, has created administrative units and opened universities under Ankara’s control in areas of Syria it controls.
Since May, Erdoğan has threatened new offensives against the YPG to create a zone 30 kilometers deep along the Syrian border where Ankara could resettle 1 million Syrian refugees. Erdoğan said, “It is the United States and the coalition forces that are the main instigators of terrorism in Syria”, referring to the YPG militias that Ankara considers terrorist organizations. He recently demanded the withdrawal of US forces from Syria, a demand backed by Russia amid the NATO war in Ukraine.
Before declaring Turkey’s “solidarity” with Russia in Syria, he said: “Every step we take in Syria right now, we are in contact with Russia through our security forces, our intelligence services and our Ministry of Defence”.
The pro-China Fatherland Party, Erdoğan’s nationalist ally, announced that a party delegation “will travel to Damascus in 10 to 15 days” for “high-level talks”. In a party statement, he said: “Under these circumstances, Turkey’s cooperation with Syria was of historic importance. [Çavuşoğlu’s] the statements are very correct. We congratulate them.
Ankara would like Damascus to support an end to the de facto YPG-controlled administration in northeast Syria and the return of refugees to Syria. Damascus, on the other hand, demands to recover parts of its territory now controlled by Turkey and its Islamist proxies.
Erdoğan’s claim to be a “pacifist” working for “world peace” is a hypocritical lie. A key supporter of the US-NATO war for regime change in Syria since 2011, Ankara nearly provoked a NATO war with Russia when it shot down a Russian warplane on its southern border in November 2015.
Ankara’s feverish diplomatic activity indeed highlights the growing danger of a nuclear war triggered by US-NATO threats against Russia and China. Only a massive mobilization of the international working class against imperialist war based on a socialist program can stop this catastrophic slide towards a Third World War.