Russian and Turkish Foreign Ministers hold press conference
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Ankara, following a meeting that lasted for approximately an hour in the morning. Cavusoglu also met with Lavrov, who made an official visit to Turkey on April 6-7 at Cavusoglu’s invitation, for the Muslim fast-breaking meal (iftar) yesterday at the Official Residence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After the bilateral and inter-delegation meetings held today to discuss issues such as the Ukraine crisis, the grain agreement, and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu spoke at the joint press conference.
'WE SUPPORT EFFORTS TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO RUSSIAN GRAIN EXPORTS’
"We thank Russia for its post-earthquake support," said Cavusoglu in his statement on the Ukraine crisis. "We said that the war should end through negotiations as soon as possible. We, as [representatives of] Turkey, emphasized that we are ready to give whatever support is in our hands. The grain corridor agreement is proof that dialogue and negotiations yield results. We attach importance to the continuation of this agreement. This is also important in terms of reducing the world food crisis. We are also in agreement that the barriers to the export of Russian grain and fertilizer should also be removed. We support the efforts of the UN to remove these barriers."
'WE EVALUATED WHEN THE FOUR FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING WILL BE'
Speaking about the normalization process with Syria, Cavusoglu touched on the meeting held in Moscow at the level of deputy foreign ministers. "In Moscow, each country had expressed its own views and stances. We want this process to continue in a transparent manner. We know that not all issues will be resolved in a meeting or two. Continuing the dialogue and the talks will be beneficial. We also discussed what the agenda will be during the quadrilateral meeting of foreign ministers and when that meeting would take place. We will inform you all with updates on this in the upcoming period," he said.
'OUR DESIRE IS TO SIGN A PERMANENT PEACE AGREEMENT BETWEEN AZERBAIJAN AND ARMENIA'
Stating that they discussed the Libya issue and believed that this country should be prepared for a democratic and transparent election as soon as possible, Cavusoglu said, "We will continue our efforts for the unification of [Libya]." Saying "Our wish is to sign a permanent peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia as soon as possible," Cavusoglu reminded that Russia had also contributed to the normalization process between Armenia and Turkey.
'THE FIRST STAGE OF AKKUYU'S OPENING WILL BE ON APRIL 27'
Stating that they also exchanged views on Cyprus and Afghanistan during the meeting, Cavusoglu said the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, energy, and tourism issues were discussed as well. "We have a common will to develop our economic and commercial relations. We discussed energy cooperation issues, including the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. The first phase of the power plant's opening will be on April 27," he said.
LAVROV: WE GAVE SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT TO THE SYRIA ISSUE
At the beginning of his speech, Lavrov started by thanking Cavusoglu for his invitation and continued, "We were going to hold this visit at the Antalya Diplomatic Forum in March, but Turkey faced an earthquake like no other. On April 27, we will have transferred nuclear energy to the first block of the power plant. As is known, a natural gas center will be established in Turkey. Last year, the leaders of the two countries decided to establish a gas center. In the period since, we have realized how apt a decision last year’s natural gas distribution center [commitment] was.”
"At the meeting, we paid particular attention to the Syrian issue," said Lavrov, adding, "The relations between Turkey and Syria are normalizing through Russia’s mediation. In March and April, the heads of intelligence met. Later, a four-way meeting was held at the level of deputy ministers in Moscow. And I want to emphasize the meeting the respectable Minister mentioned which took place the day before yesterday. We also discussed the Libya issue. NATO attacked this country, and the country was razed to the ground. Now we are trying to put this country back together again. But unfortunately, this is not progressing at the pace we want. We are of the same opinion as Turkey on the need to achieve a political consensus there. We also discussed the matter of Palestine and the issue of the restoration of Palestinian-Israeli relations. This process was interrupted by the developments and unilateral measures taken. We once again call for the implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Palestine-Israel should conduct direct talks. On the Caucasus issue, we want the normalization of Armenia-Turkey relations. We wish to remove all kinds of barriers to transportation.”
'AFTER BEATING RUSSIA, THE TURN WILL COME FOR CHINA'
"We also discussed the Ukraine issue," said Lavrov. “The collective West, especially Washington, has an unconstructive agenda on Ukraine. They declared their goal to be defeating Russia on the field. They do not want to see rivals in the international arena. They are engaged in activities against countries that carry out independent, sovereign policies. After defeating Russia, it will be China's turn. They are trying to intimidate any country that protects its own national interests. They want everyone to be subordinate to US interests. In the statements made repeatedly by Kyiv and the US, it was said that 'it is wrong to stop the war, it is wrong to sit at the negotiating table.' We did not say no to negotiations. We said, 'this can be done when our legitimate interests and sensitivities are taken into account.’ Instead, they just gave us advice. The US wants to establish hegemony over everyone. The US wants a unilateral world order. Russia, along with other countries, wants this order to be subject to the UN Charter," he said.
‘THE RUSSIAN PART OF THE GRAIN AGREEMENT IS NOT BEING APPLIED'
Lavrov also touched on the grain agreement in his speech. "We discussed the grain agreement with UN Secretary-General Guterres. This was a package agreement. The Ukrainian part of the agreement is being implemented, but the Russian part is not. The UN constantly calls on Western countries, but in vain, they do not respond. Barriers to the insurance and shipment of Russian products still remain. We will continue to discuss this situation with our Turkish counterparts. Our contacts will continue. I invite Cavusoglu to Moscow. There will be many international events and we will definitely meet at the margins of these events," he said.
CAVUSOGLU: GRAIN AGREEMENT PROBLEMS CONTINUE
Lavrov and Cavusoglu answered journalists' questions after their statements. Asked about the grain agreement, Cavusoglu said, "The Istanbul grain agreement was signed in July last year. But Russia announced that it was extended for 60 days, not 120 days. More than 27 million tons of grain and food have been shipped by 866 ships so far. It has contributed to the establishment of food price stability in the world. In addition, our President Erdogan emphasized that this wheat should be sent to the least developed countries in every meeting with Mr. Putin. Also, cooperation has begun on bringing some of the Russian grain to Turkey, where it is ground into flour and delivered to the least developed countries. Qatar also supports this. The crisis continues, the war continues, but we are making significant efforts to minimize the world food crisis with such steps. There is an agreement between the UN and Russia to ensure the export of Russian grain, fertilizer, and ammonia. It is important to ensure this as well. The US and the UK took some steps on payments and insurance, but the problem still persists. In particular, we see that banks do not take any steps regarding payments, although these products are not included in the sanctions. In New York, Guterres and the UN and Turkey evaluated what we can be done about this.”
"We have to be fair here. When we say this, sometimes we are asked, 'Are you supporting Russia?' No, it's not that we support Russia, we already import grain and fertilizer from Russia. The important thing is that for the continuation of this agreement, the existing agreements must be fulfilled so that the export of grain and fertilizer from Ukraine can continue, this is what we are saying. The Agricultural Bank of the Russian Federation is still not included in the SWIFT system. The problem continues in this regard," he said.
LAVROV: WE PUT THE AGREEMENT ON HOLD BECAUSE WE ARE TIRED OF APPEALING TO THE CONSCIENCES OF PARTIES
Lavrov, on the other hand, answered the same question about the grain corridor: "Grain or fertilizers are not included in the sanction lists. Neither are on these sanction lists. For example, we cannot enter Mediterranean ports. Foreign ships cannot enter Russian ports. Although grain and fertilizer are not directly sanctioned, we are almost being told ‘Store the grain and fertilizer, you won't be able to ship them.’ We allowed the tensions to mount because we saw no one willing to solve the problem and were tired of appealing to the conscience of relevant parties. We put the agreement on hold, and now there is a 60-day extension at play. If no progress is made on the transfer of Russian agricultural products, we will question whether there is any need for this agreement. There is an initiative of the EU called 'solidarity corridors.’ The European initiative proposes something like this: they want to export Ukrainian grains and products to Europe, to export them by land. As I said in the introductory speech, in fact, Europeans' own producers are protesting this. Because of the cheap Ukrainian grains, the market has been negatively affected," he replied.
'CONTRIBUTED TO THE LEAP IN NAZI IDEOLOGY IN WEST UKRAINE'
Lavrov said, "The lion's share of the grain shipped goes to Europe. They do not approach Guterres' offers honestly. They have improved the logistics for land transport. We will then continue this shipment with Qatar and Turkey, and Putin will continue to deliver grain to poor countries," Lavrov said. he continued.
As for peace talks with Ukraine, Lavrov said, "They used the Minsk agreements as a break to provide arms to Ukraine. The West contributed to the leap in Nazi ideology in Ukraine. The West did this to weaken Russia and prevent the prosperity of the peoples of Ukraine and Russia. We are ready to hold talks, but it is necessary to take into account the current realities. Look what laws this so-called 'democratic' state [Ukraine] has passed: it banned the Russian language, Russian books are being banned, and Russian artists cannot give concerts. Odessa is a city founded by Ekaterina the Second. But even statues are being removed."
'WE WILL DETERMINE SUITABLE DATES FOR A FOUR-WAY MEETING'
Speaking about the Syria-Turkey-Iran-Russia deputy ministers' meetings, Lavrov said, "For the normalization process, holding meetings at the level of defense ministers, heads of intelligence and deputy ministers is a success in itself. We will determine the appropriate dates."
'RUSSIA DOESN'T MEDDLE IN ANYONE'S INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Answering a Russian journalist's question about the Turkish elections, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said, "You didn't confuse me with someone else, did you? I invite you to a press conference with the representatives of the United States. Russia will never interfere in anyone's internal affairs. Turkey is a sovereign country, and this is its business." Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, on the other hand, commented on the question posed and Lavrov's response, "I find your question strange, but I thank Lavrov for this answer. We have not seen such an attempt from Russia anyway."