The balanced policy pursued by Ankara during Russia's invasion of Ukraine opened up a space for Turkish diplomacy that made an international impact.
It’s crystal clear that it helped shape Turkey’s role in this crisis when we look at the traffic of President Tayyip Erdoğan's meetings, both the visits to Ankara and the upcoming meetings, and the mediation mission that brought together the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya.
A few days prior to the start of the war in Ukraine, President Erdoğan summed up Turkey's stance upon his return from his African tour, which he interrupted to attend the NATO leaders' summit, with the following words: "We will not give up on Russia, we will not give up on Ukraine."
The summit, which took place in Antalya and brought together the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Ukraine with Turkey’s mediation, was a disappointment for those who were optimistic about reaching a ceasefire.
While Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at the press conference he held at the end of the talks, wanted to blame the Ukrainian side by using sarcastic sentences such as "You shouldn't sit at the table just for the sake of talking", it was as if he wanted to cover up that he, rather than Kuleba, actually came to Antalya with such an intention.
As a result, the absence of a ceasefire from the summit means that Russia did not give up on the goals it set at the beginning of the war, nor does it want to revise them.
However, there’s one thing that shouldn’t escape our notice:
Apart from what is happening on the battlefield, this issue also has a “psychological warfare” dimension.
It is no secret that the Russians want to use psychological tools such as "defying the expectations" of the Ukrainians, "destroying their morale", "turning their hopes into disappointment" in this process.
WILL THERE BE A MEETING BETWEEN PUTIN AND ZELENSKYY WITH ERDOĞAN'S MEDIATION?
Of course, one would be remiss to conclude that the success of Turkish diplomacy was overshadowed by the results of the meeting in Antalya just because this single instance.
As Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu pointed out, making statements as the host after the talks were over, this meeting may as well be “just the start” in terms of re-establishing the negotiating table in the future.
According to this, one can surmise that it is ineed possible for Zelenskyy and Putin to meet under Erdogan's mediation.
As we can glean from the increasing traffic, Turkey's mediation mission in this war was met with interest and curiosity, especially in western capitals.
DID BIDEN ASK ERDOĞAN TO JOIN RUSSIAN SANCTIONS?
U.S. President Joe Biden had a telephone conversation with President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.
Statements from the White House after the meeting were among the “most positive” towards Ankara since Biden took office.
In her statement after the meeting, White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki stated that "Turkish President Erdogan and U.S. President Biden had a “constructive” meeting, and that Biden is very pleased with Turkey's diplomatic initiative within the scope of Antalya Diplomacy Forum.
Biden, who took to his social media accounts after the meeting, said: "I spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today," and then made the following statements:
"We discussed the importance of continued international efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its aggression and to support the Ukrainian people as they confront this crisis."
SEBIOR TURKISH OFFICIAL: BIDEN DID NOT ASK FOR SANCTIONS
Well, does the behind-the-scenes of the interview match the atmosphere on the public stage?
Let me rephrase:
Could it be that there was a suggestion/pressure for Turkey to abandon its current stance, to choose/clarify its side, and to comply with the decisions taken by the Western alliance it is part of?
For example, was there such a demand regarding sanctions, which the Western bloc widely introduced?
I asked a senior official who was familiar with the Erdogan/Biden meeting: “Did Biden ask Turkey to impose sanctions on Russia?”
I'm just quoting the answer I got:
“No, there was no such thing. It was a good meeting. It is exactly as the statements suggested.”
This is the behind-the-scenes answer I got.
There are two other statements with regards to the sanctions.
Let me leave them there.
First, there was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's answer during a CNN Turk broadcast when he was asked whether Turkey will impose sanctions on Russia: "Yes, we expect all our allies to impose sanctions. We should make Russia pay a heavy price. I also conveyed this matter to Mr. Çavuşoğlu."
The other is Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın’s response to the sanctions question, while speaking to CNN International:
"At the moment, we do not plan to impose sanctions on Russia. Because we want to keep the channel of trust open. We want to keep the lines of communication with the Russians open. And of course we do not want our economy to be impacted."