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Istanbul talks can play ‘key role’ to end war in Ukraine

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The continuation of the Istanbul peace process can play a “key role” in ending the Russia-Ukraine war, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said.

Kalın’s remarks came after he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Andrei Yarmak, the head of the staff of Ukraine’s president in Kyiv, where he went to discuss the ongoing war and Ukraine-Turkey relations.

“Continuing the Istanbul process, in particular, can play a key role in ending this war. We are also intensely working on this,” Kalın told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“We will continue to make great efforts to end the war from now on. Because there will be no winner in this war. Ukraine and Russia will both lose,” he said.

“But not only these two countries, but also the countries in the region will be adversely affected, and global markets will be adversely affected,” the presidential spokesperson added.

Maintaining that ending the war through negotiation and dialogue is “our primary goal,” he said: “But of course, the longer the war continues, the more difficult the conditions get. The situation has become more urgent, especially in terms of ending the attacks against civilians.”

He emphasized that during his visit to Kyiv, he held extensive discussions on evacuation and opening a humanitarian corridor, especially in Mariupol.

The spokesperson added that Zelenskyy praised Turkey’s support for Ukraine and thanked it for its balanced diplomacy and its approach that prioritizes negotiations.

“Continuation of conflicts and attacks by Russia makes the (negotiation) process more difficult,” Kalın said, especially unearthing mass graves and images that emerged in Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol.

“We urgently need the establishment of a humanitarian corridor and the evacuation of civilians and wounded soldiers. Our efforts in this direction continue,” he said.

“We are also evaluating what kind of role the United Nations will play here. We are intensifying our efforts both bilaterally and in coordination with the United Nations for the realization of these evacuations,” he added.

Asked whether Turkey will hold a meeting with the Russian side after his Ukraine visit, Kalın said: “Of course, our contacts with Russia continue as you know.”

“We will continue to be in contact with the Russian side because, in order to bring the two sides together around a table and prevent conflicts, it is necessary to maintain contact with the Russian side,” he added.

At least 2,899 civilians have been killed and 3,235 others injured in Ukraine since the war started on Feb. 24, according to U.N. estimates. More than 5.4 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, data from the U.N. refugee agency shows.

Turkey is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. Its delicately balanced act of assuming a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Turkey has won widespread praise for its push to end the war.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them.

In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29 as the war entered its second month with casualties piling up on both sides.

During the talks, Ukrainian officials signaled readiness to negotiate a “neutral status,” a key Russian demand, but demanded security guarantees for their country. Ukraine wants to see countries, including Turkey, as guarantors in a deal with Russia, a Ukrainian negotiator said after the talks. Russia, meanwhile, pledged to significantly decrease its military activities focusing on the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv to build trust for future negotiations.

Turkey also hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya in March.

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