Russian FM Lavrov’s visit to Türkiye; Venezuelan President Maduro’s visit to Türkiye; “Türkiye” replaces “Turkey”

Russian FM Lavrov’s visit to Türkiye; Venezuelan President Maduro’s visit to Türkiye; “Türkiye” replaces “Turkey”

Last week, there was a heavy diplomatic traffic in Türkiye.

The first important visitor to Ankara was the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Another important visit took place in Ankara, during the same period, by the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Also another important development of this week was President Erdogan’s statements on changing the official name of the country to “Türkiye” instead of “Turkey” in the English language.

The grain corridor project between Türkiye and Russia in the Black Sea

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has visited Ankara for bilateral talks.

It was announced that during the official meeting between Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, bilateral relations were discussed, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine, the global grain crisis and the military operation planned by the Turkish Army in northern Syria.

Cavusoglu, who issued a press statement after the meeting, noted that they discussed the obstacles over exports of Russian and Ukrainian goods and various ideas came out for the export of Ukrainian grain to the global market and that the UN also had its own solution in this regard.

Cavusoglu evaluated the issue with the following statements; “We are talking about a plan that includes a mechanism and a cooperation that can be established between the UN, Russia, Ukraine and Türkiye, including the inspection of the freighters (for the grain corridor). As Türkiye, we find this plan reasonable and a feasible one (…) Upon the proposal of the UN, we announced we could host a multilateral meeting in Istanbul to discuss the details of this”.

Cavusoglu stated that Türkiye considers Russia’s demand for the removal of obstacles, standing in the way of its exports, in exchange for the delivery of Ukrainian grain, sunflower seed and sunflower seed oil to international markets, as a very legitimate and justified demand, and moved on:

“It is also not right to get over this issue by making an exception for grains and fertilizers exported by the Russian Federation, in the economic sanctions. We also see this in the recent statements. However, we think that the necessary steps should be taken regarding the insurance documentations, logistic issues, docking rights, and the other services to be provided to these freighters and the payment methods or the bank transactions. In other words, if the rest of the world needs the Ukrainian and the Russian exports, we think it will be useful to provide the ground for this all together. The important thing here is to establish a mechanism based on mutual understanding.”

Speaking about the recent developments in Syria, Cavusoglu said; “The only solution is the political solution. That can happen with the opposition, the moderate opposition. We are not talking about radical terrorists, the only solution, for the regime, is to sit down and reach an agreement on the future of the country. We state that we will support such processes and support the territorial integrity of Syria. Terrorist organizations that both threaten the territorial integrity of Syria and increase their attacks against our country, must be purged from this country as well. We should not confuse the Syrian Kurds with the PKK/YPG.”

Underlining that some countries, mainly the United States, openly support these terrorist organizations, Cavusoglu said, “This is the exact reason why we oppose Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership application. There is no other reason behind this. We oppose their membership only because of this reason, and of course due to the restrictions on Türkiye. We have now conveyed these concerns as a formal note”.

Cavusoglu made the following statements on the subject;  “There are commitments given by both Russia and the United States, to clear terrorists elements from this region. It is our most fundamental right to expect these commitments to be fulfilled. It is not possible for us to tolerate the attacks from these terrorist organizations upon us.”

Referring to Türkiye’s mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu said; “We see a much more positive atmosphere, in terms of returning to the negotiations as a part of the developments in the field, compared to a few weeks ago. If both sides want to have negotiations again, we, as a mediator country, will provide the necessary support, as we did in Antalya and in Istanbul by bringing the delegations together, and we will do our part to start the negotiations once again. Also, as our President has stated to both leaders, we would like to welcome them as leaders in Türkiye. We believe that both countries have confidence in Türkiye. And we have maintained our objective and unbiased position from the very beginning, including the implementation of Montreux Convention strictly. Therefore, I would like to note that we believe in a negotiated settlement in which a permanent ceasefire can be achieved.”

Cavusoglu said that the issue of removing the bilateral trade barriers relations was also evaluated with his counterpart Lavrov.

Cavusoglu continued as follows:

“I would like to take this opportunity to say that bilateral relations and trade have continued to increase despite all the difficulties. There are steps we have taken and will take in the field of energy (such as the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant). The delegations held talks both yesterday and before. And we will continue to do so. We will also continue to discuss all these issues, along with our bilateral and the regional issues via consecutive visits. Our greatest desire is to establish a lasting peace in Ukraine as soon as possible, and we are ready to give all kinds of support towards the steps to be taken in this direction.”

Lavrov said the share of Ukrainian grain exports in the global market made up about 1% of the total and does not play a significant role in preventing the risk of a global food crisis.

“Nevertheless, Russia values Türkiye’s efforts to unblock the situation on grain exports from Ukrainian sea ports”, he added. Lavrov said “The Russian and Turkish militaries are discussing clearing mines in Ukraine’s ports to pave the way for grain exports”.

According to the Russian senior diplomat, the main problem with the export of Ukrainian grain is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s refusal to discuss the clearing of sea mines. He expressed their readiness to provide any kind of security for the ships leaving Ukraine’s ports with the grain “hand-by-hand” with Turkish authorities.

“We guarantee that we will not use the demining of Ukrainian ports to attack the country,” he pledged. Lavrov then urged the resumption of peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv. He said Russia is ready for a meeting with the UN and Ukraine in Istanbul, although such a meeting “would be nothing but symbolic.”

On the issue of Syria, Lavrov protested the US support for “terror organizations” in Syria, saying Moscow had suffered from a similar situation in the Caucasus region in the 1990s. He said they had also exchanged views on the normalization processes between Armenia and Türkiye, and Armenia and Azerbaijan, adding that Russia was willing to host another meeting in Moscow between the sides.

Lavrov praised the development of Russian-Turkish relations, noting that the bilateral trade had reached 14 billion USD and major projects were being implemented successfully. He admitted that the two countries have different views on many things, however, “when Russia and Türkiye have differences, they respect the positions of each other, this is the key to the achievements in the relations.”

Furthermore, Turkish and Russian foreign ministers also evaluated the latest developments in Libya, according to Cavusoglu. “In order to establish stability in Libya, everyone must do their part,” he said, adding Türkiye “always stood by legitimacy in Libya.” “We believe that the country should get ready for transparent and democratic elections,” he said.

As a last-minute question by a Ukrainian journalist on “any other stolen products from Ukraine into Russia,” Lavrov said: “You are constantly worried about where and what we could steal, do you think everyone is doing this? Our goal is to fulfill our targets that we have officially announced, which is to liberate eastern Ukraine from the oppression of the Neo-Nazi regime.”

“Grain could freely be transported to its destination. There is no obstacle by the Russian side. (Ukrainian President) Zelensky needs to give orders to Ukrainian and foreign vessels to pass to the Black Sea if he is still able to manage things there,” Lavrov said.

The improving Turkish-Venezuelan relations

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro came to Türkiye at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and made his first visit to Anitkabir, mausoleum of the founding leader of Türkiye, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Maduro, who signed the Anitkabir Official Memorial Book, wrote in the book, “I am here to pay my respects to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of this great nation (…) Long live Türkiye, long live Venezuela, long live our great liberators.”

During the visit to the Mausoleum, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez accompanied Maduro.

After his visit to Anitkabir, Maduro met with President Erdogan.

During the meeting, it was shared that bilateral relations were discussed especially in the fields of energy and trade.

A cooperation agreement was signed between the central banks of the two countries after the leader’s meeting. It was announced to the press that two different agreements covering the fields of agriculture and trade were also signed.

After the meeting, the two leaders held a joint press conference. Venezuelan President Maduro stated “Türkiye has a great potential for a resurrection”. He added “A world that we call a multipolar world, a multi-centric world. We want peace to be established in this world, we want the international law to be established. This world should be a world of coordination and cooperation. A world of coexistence. There should be a world of dialogue between civilizations, a world of many religions and cultures. In this sense, Türkiye sets an example for us. When you evaluate the world geopolitically, Türkiye plays a key role.”

Maduro called on the Turkish investors to invest in Venezuela and said; “All Turkish investors should come to Venezuela. They should come to Venezuela for tourism, mining, industry and logistics, banking, and natural resources such as oil, gas, gold and coal. We have the moment right now. I can guarantee you. Our legal, economic and political bases are ready. I can personally give you the full guarantee. This is now an opening-up process for us. We are in the process of opening-up of the relations between these two countries.”

Also, President Erdogan stated that Venezuela is Türkiye’s one of the most important partners in Latin America and the Caribbean region, and that they cannot forget Venezuela’s support for Türkiye during the July 15th coup attempt by FETO terrorist group.

Calling Venezuela a “friend of the hard times”, Erdogan continued; “My dear friend, has written his name in golden letters in the struggle for the independence of his country, just like his predecessors Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez. Mr. Maduro’s stance on the Palestinian issue is also admirable. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate in this regard as well.”

And regarding the relations between the country, Erdogan said: “There is a wide potential for cooperation between Venezuela and our country in many areas, especially in trade, energy, mining, construction, medicine, agriculture and tourism. The complementary natures of our economies, holds new opportunities for cooperation and mutual investments. We increased our trade volume, which was at the level of 150 million dollars in 2019, up to 850 million dollars doubling in 2020 and almost tripling it last year. Current figures indicate that we can easily reach 1 billion USD this year. Our goal is, god willing, to increase this figure up to 3 billion dollars as soon as possible.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also shared the information that he will pay a return visit to Venezuela in July.

Türkiye” – instead of “Turkey”

Another important agenda item of the last week was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for the use of the name of “Türkiye” and not Turkey, in the international arena.

In a statement after the cabinet meeting, President Erdogan announced the decision to use the name “Türkiye” instead of “Türkiye” in the international arena.

Erdogan used the following statements in his statement on the subject: “From now on, all government institutions will cease using the expression ‘Turkey’ in all our correspondence, and they will use the name of Türkiye as of now.”

It was announced that the first notification of this notification was made to NATO.

President Erdogan stated that the United Nations has also been informed about the issue and that the country’s official name in the international arena has been changed from “Turkey” to Türkiye.

Erdogan continued his words on the subject as follows:

“From now on, all the international dialog partners, our own institutions and organizations, our citizens will be able to proudly express the name of their homeland as Türkiye. From now on, in all our correspondence, all the government institutions will stop using the expression ‘Turkey’ all together, and instead will use the name of Türkiye.”

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April 2024