Ankara taking all measures to safely evacuate Turkish nationals from Ukraine, says Mevlut Cavusoglu
It is imperative that Turkiye’s airspace remains open, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday amid numerous airspace bans on Russia by Western countries over the war in Ukraine.
“It is important not only for Turkiye, but also for the countries that impose these sanctions (on Russia) and their citizens, that this airspace is open … both in strategic and humanitarian terms,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said following a meeting of top NATO diplomats.
He added: “If (Turkish) airspace was closed, we could not have brought the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Special Monitoring Mission from Sochi to Istanbul yesterday (Thursday).”
Ankara has been taking all possible measures to safely evacuate Turkish nationals from Ukraine, Cavusoglu stressed, saying a meeting between the two warring sides’ foreign ministers could be arranged “if conditions allow” in southern Turkiye next week at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.
He also said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed his participation in Antalya Diplomacy Forum Thursday.
He noted that there are also foreign ministers or representatives of international organizations who want to meet with Lavrov as part of the forum.
The Antalya Diplomacy Forum will be held on March 11-13 in Turkiye’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya.
The Turkish foreign minister underlined the significance of humanitarian corridors as “essential,” saying Turkiye’s aim is that the war between Russia and Ukraine does not continue any longer.
Turkiye will do its part to end the war, he added.
He noted that the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland also participated in NATO meetings Friday, adding that he had several bilateral talks as part of the meeting.
Regarding his meeting with the UK’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss, Cavusoglu said they agreed to meet in London towards the end of March.
- 9,653 Turkish nationals left Ukraine
Cavusoglu said a total of 9,653 Turkish nationals were evacuated from Ukraine.
He noted that the evacuation of at least 6,690 Turkish nationals was arranged by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, while others left Ukraine with their own means.
He also said he held phone calls with some Turkish nationals who wanted to be evacuated from Ukraine.
He went on to say that the talks between Turkish and Russian officials are going on to evacuate some Turkish nationals in Ukraine via Russia.
“Our efforts are continuing to evacuate our citizens in the regions northeast of Ukraine via Russia, particularly our citizens in (the Ukrainian city of) Sumy,” adding that Turkiye’s plan for the evacuation is ready.
He said buses were ready on the Russian side, waiting for Turkish nationals who will depart from an available airport in Russia to travel to Turkiye through Turkish Airlines flights.
Over a question on US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to Turkiye, Cavusoglu said they will discuss the Russia-Ukraine war as well as the implementation of the strategic working group agreed by the leaders of the US and Turkiye in Rome last October.
- Russian-Ukrainian war
Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
Moscow has been further isolated with its planes barred from flying in European, US, and Canadian airspace.
More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.
In the second round of peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv on Thursday, the two sides agreed on creating humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians.
Turkiye has good ties with both Russia and Ukraine and has called for a peaceful resolution.