‘Ukraine deserves NATO membership’ – Turkey’s Erdogan

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Istanbul that Ukraine deserved NATO membership and that Ankara would continue working on a negotiated end to the war.

In Prague, Zelenskiy won a pledge of support for Ukraine to join NATO “as soon as the war is over”, and in Sofia secured backing for membership “as soon as conditions allow.”

“Ukraine deserves NATO membership. I would like to re-emphasize a point that I have always defended persistently. A fair peace creates no losers. Despite the differences between the parties, it is our most sincere desire to return to the peace efforts,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan also said he hoped a deal that enables the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, due to expire on July 17, will continue.

“In March last year, we hosted an extremely important meeting between the negotiation committees of (Russia and Ukraine) in Istanbul. Then in July, we launched the Black Sea Grain Initiative with the signatures signed in Istanbul as a result of the mediation efforts we carried out with the United Nations. I hope that the period of the initiative, which has delivered nearly 33 million tons of grain to the people in need so far, like a breath from the Turkish straits to the world, will be extended again on July 17,” he said.

Russia has previously threatened to quit the deal because several demands to export its own grain and fertilizer have not been met.

Speaking alongside Zelenskiy, Erdogan said Russian President Vladimir Putin was to visit Turkey next month.