Turkey-Ukraine cooperation – ensuring security in the West

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Baku, 12 April 2021 –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Turkey at a critical time for his country. He discussed the defense sector, free trade agreement, and tourism issues at the 9th meeting of the Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council held on April 10. By the way, the Turkish President visited Kyiv to participate in the 8th meeting of the Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council held in February 2020. Official Ankara has repeatedly stated that the ensuring and inviolability of the territorial integrity of states are among the key priorities for them. Turkey protects this idea about all countries, including its neighbors Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and others. Official Ankara’s relations with Ukraine are based on these principles.

Protection of territorial integrity of Ukraine reminds the memorandum signed by heads of state of Ukraine, Russia, Great Britain, and the USA on December 5, 1994. According to that document, Ukraine handed over the nuclear warheads in exchange for ensuring its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Later on, France and China also joined this memorandum. So, five countries having nuclear power guaranteed territorial integrity and sovereignty. Violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine means that these countries don’t fulfill their obligation. Thus, the protection of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is in full compliance with international law. In this regard, Turkey’s position is more legal and fair. Along with protecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine, official Ankara defends the issue of Crimea annexed by Russia and the rights of Turks (Crimean Tatars)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ukraine is right to draw the attention of the world community to the issue of Crimea. Note that Crimea was a territory of the Ottoman Empire. Catherine II annexed it in 1783. Even though Ottoman Empire did not agree with this annexation, it was forced to accept it. Although the Ottoman Empire had control over the peninsula in later years, it again came under Russian rule. Despite being a part of the Russian Federation for some time during the Soviet era, it was later annexed to Ukraine. According to the Budapest Memorandum, the peninsula is a part of this country. Turkey defends the rights of Crimean Turks. They have been persecuted since the peninsula was part of Russia.

Facing such problems, the Ukrainian authority asked for help from the international community. The situation in the region becomes tense: Russia is deploying military forces to the border with Ukraine. Separatists in Donbas are increasing activity. The US is sending warships to the Black Sea. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Brussels to discuss the situation in Ukraine. As it seems, Zelensky visited Turkey in such a complicated situation.

Following the meeting of the Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, the sides released a joint statement. Below are some provisions from that statement:

– Reaffirmation of unconditional support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders;

– Continuation to coordinate steps aimed at restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, in particular the de-occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

– Support to the establishment of the Crimean Platform as a new format for resolving the issue of illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation;

– Coordination of efforts in accordance with international law to ensure the protection of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and the release of all illegally detained citizens of Ukraine, including Crimean Tatars.

Thus, Zelensky’s visit and agreements proved that, unlike others, Turkey respects international law and norms. Ankara tries to help the solution to the conflicts in the world. Turkey once more proved that regional cooperation is better than conflicts. With an approach to the issue of Ukraine, Turkey demonstrates a fair position in a solution to the conflicts. Turkey and Russia have close economic cooperation. The West is threatening and imposing sanctions on Turkey for its close relations with Moscow, as well as for the purchase of the S-400 missile system. However, official Ankara shows that it is a reliable partner by proving its commitment to agreements. In other words, the cooperation with Russia in the fields of military, economy, energy, and tourism does not prevent Turkey from supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Official Ankara takes this step in the liberation of Azerbaijan’s occupied territories. This is an objective approach of Turkey to the settlement of conflicts. The issue of Ukraine once more confirms that the conflicts should be settled. Cooperation between the two countries supports these issues. Ensuring security in the Black Sea region is a security of the West, as well as EU member states and NATO. Turkey’s relations with Ukraine serve this principle.

Sadraddin Ismayilov

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