Erdoğan-Putin meeting; Foreign Minister Fidan’s visits to Russia and Iran; The women’s volleyball team is the champion of Europe

Erdoğan-Putin meeting; Foreign Minister Fidan’s visits to Russia and Iran; The women’s volleyball team is the champion of Europe

Türkiye had a busy agenda last week.

The meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin topped the agenda.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s meetings in Russia and Iran were widely discussed.

The development that stirred Türkiye was the national women’s volleyball Team winning the European Championship.

Constructive Meeting between Erdoğan and Putin

President Erdoğan and Russian President Putin met on September 4th in the city of Sochi.

The two leaders made statements to the press before the meeting.

Putin stressed that “Türkiye has become a member of the ‘international club of nuclear states’ after the delivery of nuclear fuel to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant”:

“New projects in this field are possible and we will discuss joint actions. We will also discuss the Ukraine crisis. We are open to talks. There have been significant developments in Syria, and we are aware of Türkiye’s sensitivity in this matter. We will thoroughly discuss all of these.”

President Erdoğan said the following:

“We are very glad that the trade volume between Türkiye and Russia is $62 billion, and we are taking steps toward the target of reaching $100 billion. I believe that the fact that the heads of our central banks will meet here today is important from the point of view of a step towards the transition to national currencies in bilateral relations between us.”

Erdoğan also addressed the nuclear power plant:

“The step taken regarding the first unit in the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is very good. I think that we will have to take a step regarding the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant. Of course, the fact that there will be a hub in Thrace is another element of richness and vitality.

Calling Russia “number one in tourism right now”, Erdoğan then talked about the Grain Agreement:

“The most important development everyone is looking at in Türkiye-Russia relations today is the grain corridor. The message to be given at the news conference after our meeting will be a very important step toward the world, especially to the underdeveloped African countries.”

Erdoğan also said the two countries have taken important steps in the cooperation in the defense industry.

The meeting between the two leaders lasted for approximately 3 hours. There were also talks between the delegations. Following the meeting, the two leaders held a joint press conference. The initial statement came from Russian President Putin, who stated:

“I want to underline that Russia will be Türkiye’s biggest partner in natural gas. We are ready to transport gas to third countries through Türkiye. We have proposed the establishment of a distribution center for this purpose. We will continue to supply cheap fuel to the Turkish economy.”

Putin also addressed the issue of the Black Sea Grain Corridor:

“We were forced to make this decision. I particularly want to emphasize that the end of the agreement did not significantly affect the global food market. The problem lies in distribution. This had nothing to do with the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The West was deceiving us. Seventy percent of it reached developed countries and very little reached poor countries. I want to reiterate my principled stance: If all sanctions related to the export of Russian agricultural products are lifted, we are ready to revive the Grain Agreement.”

President Erdoğan also made statements regarding the Grain Corridor:

“The alternative proposals put forward, such as the Black Sea Cooperation, have not provided a lasting model. Russia’s expectations are known to all parties. We have expressed and continue to express the issues raised by our Russian friends in different words. In this context, we have prepared a new package of proposals for the United Nations. I hope that a result will be achieved with the new work of the UN. Shortcomings need to be addressed, and the Grain Corridor agreement should continue.”

Erdoğan also sent a message to Ukraine, saying: “Ukraine needs to soften its approach. If 44% of the grain from Ukraine goes to European countries, Russia naturally does not view this positively. In today’s meeting, Mr. Putin said they are ready to send 1 million tons of grain to the African countries in need. We can also process this grain into flour and send it to African countries.”

While the meeting between the two leaders was positively received in the Turkish media, the absence of any positive changes regarding the Grain Corridor drew attention.

Fidan’s Visits to Russia and Iran

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan conducted important meetings in Russia and Iran.

Before President Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Putin met in Moscow, Foreign Minister Fidan met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Following their meeting, the two ministers held a joint press conference.

Lavrov mentioned that during the meeting, they discussed the normalization process of Syria-Türkiye relations and added, “Additional steps to assist Ankara and Damascus in re-establishing diplomatic relations were discussed.”

Lavrov also noted that there would be no progress in the grain corridor agreement until guarantees were provided. He stated that the West had not kept its word regarding the export of Russian grain, saying, “When our conditions in the package deal with the UN are met, we will return to the grain agreement.”

Fidan emphasized that the grain corridor initiative was at the top of their agenda, stating, “I reiterated our belief that revitalizing the initiative would bring stability in both areas. I confirmed that we are ready to provide all the support we can.”

Fidan also mentioned an ongoing process of trying to understand Russia’s position and demands, saying, “There are efforts to ensure that the shortcomings and lessons learned from the previous process do not repeat themselves in this period.”

Another significant visit of Fidan was to Iran.

After his meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdullahian, Fidan made statements. When discussing tensions in Kirkuk, he stated:

“Kirkuk’s peace and stability directly impact the peace and stability of all of Iraq. We see Kirkuk as a symbol of a culture where different communities can coexist peacefully,” stated Fidan during his speech.

He continued, “Especially, we support the efforts of the government in the long term, both in terms of infrastructure and investment issues. We are aware of how important this is for the present and future of Iraq. In such a period, we deeply regret and are greatly concerned about the tensions in Kirkuk, the homeland of our Turkmen compatriots, who are essential and foundational elements of Iraq.”

Fidan also commented on the developments in Türkiye-Iran relations, saying, “We desire to further enhance our bilateral cooperation through institutionalized dialogue mechanisms such as the High-Level Cooperation Council.”

Furthermore, Fidan had a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, during which regional and global issues were discussed.

Türkiye celebrates the trophy

Türkiye celebrated a significant victory last week as the Turkish Women’s Volleyball team defeated Serbia 3-2 in the final match held in Brussels, becoming European Champions for the first time in their history. Following their success in the FIVB Nations League, the Women’s National Volleyball team added another gold medal in the European Championships held in Belgium.

Türkiye, which had previously won 2 silver and 3 bronze medals in the European championships, sustained its successful track record by winning the championship in Belgium, where it participated as the top-ranked team after its victory in the Nations League. Türkiye is currently at the top of the FIVB country rankings.

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February 2024