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Türkiye, Ukraine, Russia to discuss setting up humanitarian corridor

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After positive developments in the prisoner exchange and the opening of a grain corridor, Türkiye steps up efforts to further initiate contact and talks between Ukraine and Russia

Türkiye will bring together the rights commissioners of warring Ukraine and Russia this week and discuss the formation of a humanitarian corridor in another step to advance talks between the two countries.

“We will try to determine a roadmap on children’s rights, human rights, exchange of the wounded and soldiers during the trilateral meeting,” Chief Ombudsman Şeref Malkoç said on Tuesday, indicating that Ankara aims for a humanitarian corridor.

“The Ukrainian ombudsman came to Türkiye and visited our institution,” Malkoç added and said that Türkiye wants a cease-fire to be in place as soon as possible.

“We invite the whole of humanity to strive for a cease-fire and an honorable peace that will protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. However, we watch with astonishment that unfortunately, some states and heads of state are striving for the continuation of the war instead of supporting peace efforts. We will negotiate for two days about what can we do for the captives,” he said.

The talks are to be held on the sidelines of a summit, running from Thursday to Saturday, which will be attended by human rights representatives from countries worldwide.

The Ombudsman Institution (KDK) and the European Union will hold an international ombudsman conference on “The Future of Human Rights in the 21st Century” with the participation of more than 50 ombudsmen on Jan. 11-12.

“I confirm that I am planning such a meeting,” Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova told journalists, according to Russian news agency Interfax. She said there had already been a discussion on the “approximate agenda of negotiations,” but gave no details.

Ukraine’s Ukrinform news agency quoted Ukraine’s commissioner Dmytro Lubinets as saying the main issue was “the return of our heroes and heroines,” which served as a reference to prisoner exchanges. “Separately, we want to raise the issue of the return of civilian hostages, whom the Russian Federation has detained en masse in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and whom it does not allow to go home,” Lubinets was quoted as saying.

In his meeting with Malkoç, Lubinets further said, “Most importantly, all Ukrainian lands, the occupied lands must be Ukrainian again.”

Peace talks between the two countries collapsed in the early months of Russia’s invasion and have not been renewed since.

We believe that the war will end at the negotiation table, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said concerning the war on Tuesday.

“There are new parameters and new realities,” he said at a press conference with South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor in Praetoria and reminded that Moscow voiced readiness for peace talks while Kyiv announced a 10-point peace plan.

“I believe that we have seen outcomes of diplomacy despite the war. There are talks on different dimensions,” Çavuşoğlu pointed out.

Russia sent troops to Ukraine in February last year. Türkiye has since enabled a prisoner swap between the warring countries. Also, Turkish mediation proved vital in facilitating the signing of a deal between Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul that reopened specific Ukrainian ports for releasing grain that had been stuck for months owing to the ongoing conflict. That development was crucial in responding to a growing global food crisis.

Türkiye 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 mediator role 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 Ukraine.

With the unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye has won widespread appreciation 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 support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Türkiye has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, the country has also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing.

In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29, 2022. Türkiye also hosted Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Antalya earlier in March.

“It is essential for the stakeholders to have a dialogue and come together. For this, the conditions that they will put forward are matters they will decide themselves,” said Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in the capital Ankara after a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

He said Türkiye’s concern is establishing a cease-fire between the two neighboring countries as soon as possible, and paving the way for peace and stability. Akar stressed that Türkiye’s efforts are essential for both NATO and the EU.

“This fire must be extinguished as soon as possible. Sometimes such situations get out of control and can have unexpected consequences. To prevent such a scenario, our president continues his calls with good intentions, considering the regional peace in terms of humanitarian, political and international relations,” Akar added.

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