Turkey’s position on Crimea is clear, although the country has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia, a Turkish official said Wednesday.
Speaking at a TRT World Forum 2021 panel, Turkey’s Grand Strategy: Regional and Global Challenges, Akif Cagatay Kilic, chairman of the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, assessed Turkey’s geopolitical position and relations with its neighbors.
“There is a problem between Ukraine and Russia. Turkey is being close to Russia and Ukraine but making its arguments and ideas very clear. We do not recognize and accept the annexation of Crimea by Russia. We say that Ukrainian territorial integrity has to be protected. But on the same side, we also have good relations with Russia,” said Kilic.
Kilic also touched on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and said the status quo in the region has changed in the past year.
“Armenia, I believe, has an opportunity here to grasp the chance that is in front of it and have at least a normalization process with Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, all the countries that it’s neighboring,” he said, adding “this will also contribute to a better relationship with some other neighbors.”
On relations with Greece, Kilic said the country is using the European Union “as a sort of big brother” and the EU is taking “a double standard towards Turkey.”
Stating that although the island of Cyprus is divided in two and the EU granted membership to Southern Cyprus, Kilic said that "even if the Turkish side of Cyprus is not recognized as a state, this is a reality.”
- No claims on any country's sovereignty
Kilic said that although Turkey has some problems with some of its neighbors, “we are not saying that we do not want to have better relations with our neighbors. And we are not saying we want to have any kind of claims on any country's sovereignty.”
“There are some misunderstandings, some understandings that are different, and some things on which we feel different. But we are always in dialogue,” he added.
Speaking on Europe, Kilic said that Europe as a continent and the EU have some big questions ahead.
“Brexit being one part of it; what will happen afterwards. We are seeing that Britain has serious problems with its day to day life due to some effects of Brexit. The German election has just happened. We will see the new government that will be formed in the future, in a couple of months, I think,” he said.
“[German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel is now leaving office. She has been a very balancing actor in politics and also European politics, but I say always that Germany has a balancing role. It doesn't matter who the chancellor is, but of course, Merkel's personal input there was important,” he added.
Kilic said that energy and the post-COVID world will be the main theme in the near future, which will require collective action.
“There's talk about a [sharp] increase in energy prices in Germany. And there are increases in food prices around the world. And this is a challenge for all of us. All our citizens are feeling this,” he said.
“Turkey will play its role at the table,” he added.