On October 9, Kyiv hosted President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who arrived with an official visit and met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The meeting resulted in a number of agreements, protocols and memoranda being signed. In particular, according to the Presidential Administration, an agreement was signed on amending the Agreement on Mutual Assistance and Protection of Investments between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the Republic of Turkey. In addition, contracts were signed between Ukrainian and Turkish defense companies.
During a joint press conference, Poroshenko stressed that this year marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Ukraine, and the two countries had reached the level of strategic partnership in their relationship. According to him, Turkey has become one of the Top 5 Ukrainian trading partners and Top 10 foreign investors in Ukraine.
In turn, Turkish President Erdogan called Ukraine the key country “for maintaining the security and peace in the region.” He also reminded those present that back in 2015, he set a goal together with the Ukrainian president to double or triple the volume of trade between the two countries to 10 billion dollars.
The Turkish president said twice during the press conference that his government would continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including in Crimea, did not recognize the illegal annexation of the peninsula and would work to keep the Crimean Tatar issue on the international agenda.
It should be added that during the press conference, the Turkish president was also asked about the recent conflict between his nation and the US which had led to a mutual suspension of visa issuance. “We are sad that the US embassy in Ankara has made such a decision and is implementing it... Turkey operates under rule of law. We are not some tribe or a tribal state. And whatever measures they would announce, similar measures would be introduced against them by the Republic of Turkey unfailingly and immediately, based on the principle of reciprocity,” Erdogan said in his comment on the incident.
“TURKEY CAN GUARANTEE PRESERVATION OF A FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD TO THE SOUTH OF UKRAINE”
Ihor SEMYVOLOS, executive director of the Center for Middle East Studies:
“My assessment of the meeting between the presidents of Ukraine and Turkey is positive. Today, such cooperation is extremely necessary for us. We need Turkey as a country, a partner, an ally, and if possible, a strategic partner as well. There was a statement, and today it becomes obvious that it is Turkey that can to a great extent provide security and guarantee preservation of a friendly neighborhood to the south of Ukraine. Besides, we should not forget that Turkey is a very important country in the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Turkey today can act as our friend, including in its relations with Russia which it can use to protect the interests of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
“As for the intended increase in the volume of trade between Ukraine and Turkey, this is unproblematic. Taking into account that the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to approximately 3.5 billion dollars in 2013, then the current level, which stands at 1.5 billion or so, is not so hard to triple. We have every chance to do this.
“It is clear that trade volumes are affecting the modality of relations in a major way. If Russia and Turkey have a trade volume of 15 billion, despite it having decreased markedly over a year of sanctions, then it can be seen that the Ukrainian-Turkish trade volume is 10 times smaller. If the trade volume grows, then the modality of our relations with Turkey will improve as well. It will be easier for us to convince our Turkish partners of the importance of restraining themselves from acting on certain plans regarding the country that occupies parts of Ukraine. If the trade volume stays low, we will lack strong enough interest groups in Turkey that would promote our cause to Erdogan and the AKP [Justice and Development Party. – Ed.]. It is a direct dependence and we have to do everything to increase the trade volume.
“Speaking of Ukrainian exports, we have to change the list of goods that we still export to Turkey, where metals and metal goods make up the lion’s share. The larger the share of technology industries, high-tech, joint ventures in aircraft industry, nuclear power, rocket industry, the better we will have it. Because what we have now does not allow us to rapidly increase our exports. Instead, there is a clear trend of Turkish imports growing quite rapidly, at 10 percent a year, so they are a little more interested in keeping the Ukrainian market open to them.
“As far as the issue of the Crimean Tatars is concerned, it is very important that the presidents discussed it. I would like to mention the monitoring mission of 2015, which greatly influenced the formation of the international position on the Crimean Tatars. This mission drew very serious conclusions from the situation prevailing in Crimea. Obviously, such missions are needed and we can carry out such missions, but the Turks can and need to keep the situation under constant control, at least in order to prevent Russia’s lawless actions. That is why it is very important.
“However, we must understand the limitations. One should not expect Erdogan to pressure Putin into meeting all the demands of the Turkish president. This is unlikely, but the Russians are forced to take into account the Turkish perspective. And it is desirable that this perspective is friendly to Ukraine.”
“WE WISHED TO SEE MILITARY AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM TURKEY”
Heorhii LOHVYNSKYI, MP, vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:
“I would like Turkey to take more active and effective measures to protect the Crimean Tatars. In my opinion, they have not achieved their goals and objectives. But on the other hand, of course, we would be wrong to underestimate the assistance that is now provided to the Crimean Tatars and Ukraine, including on issues related to the protection of territorial integrity. For example, ships that illegally enter Crimean ports. Now we have a preliminary agreement with Turkey stating that they will detain these ships and assist us. At the international level, the Turkish delegation’s actions in the PACE are sometimes of a debatable nature, but they are totally committed to their goals on the matters of territorial integrity, Crimea, and the protection of the Crimean Tatars. This was what Erdogan emphasized.
“On the other hand, turning now to what we want to see from Turkey, it is military and financial support in matters related to the fate of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people and control over certain maritime zones. I think that it would be very difficult for Russia to solve many problems had Turkey more effectively helped us and introduced tougher measures. However, tough measures are a rare occurrence in diplomacy, but we still hope they will be taken someday.
“Any cooperation with international partners of Turkey’s magnitude is positive. My opinion is that the Turkish side behaves very carefully, because, for example, a Russian military base is in close proximity to Turkey. At the same time, Turkey is an independent and self-sufficient country that can convey its opinions instead of hiding them. It seems to me that they have not yet achieved that level. In all other respects, we are grateful for their cooperation in various fields.”