President Erdogan: Annexation of Crimea illegal

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey will not accept the illegal annexation of Crimea. 

After meeting his Ukrainian counterpart in Ankara, Erdogan told a joint press conference: “Continuation of our kinsmen's existence in their historical motherland Crimea, protection of their identity and culture, preservation of their basic rights and freedoms are Turkey's priorities.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia to act within international laws.

He stressed that Crimea belonged to Ukraine and said his country and Russia would find a common path to re-establish peace and stability in the region.

He described Turkey as a “good neighbor, sincere friend and important strategic partner,” in highlighting Turkey’s importance to relations with Ukraine.

Zelensky said he wanted to make his country a “center of attraction” for foreign investors through economic and trade reforms.

”I would like to invite the Turkish business world to Ukraine,” said Zelensky and he guaranteed a comfortable work environment.

The Ukrainian leader is in Turkey for a two-day-visit.

The Eastern European country held snap parliamentary elections last month after Zelensky, a former popular comedian, dissolved parliament, Verkhovna Rada, during his swearing-in ceremony in May.

The elections did not take place in Crimea, a peninsula on the northern Black Sea coast illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, or in eastern Ukraine, which is currently under the control of pro-Russian rebels. 

Peace corridor in Syria 

Erdogan stressed the importance of a “peace corridor” in Syria, and said Turkey and the U.S. agreed to establish a joint operation center. 

“Three-day talks with the U.S. military delegation ended positively,” said Erdogan, highlighting the important thing is to take a step in east of Euphrates with the U.S.

Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed that the safe-zone in northern Syria will be a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians longing to return home, according to the Turkish National Defense Ministry.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara also confirmed in a statement that the parties agreed to rapidly implement "initial measures" to address Turkey's security concerns and establish a Joint Operations Center in Turkey to coordinate the establishment of the safe zone.

Turkey conducted two successful cross-border operations in Syria since 2016, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, both meant to eradicate the presence of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists.

Ankara expected the creation of a 20-mile (32-kilometer) safe zone in northern Syria and stressed that it wants the YPG/PYD terror group cleared in the region.

YPG/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of terror group PKK, which has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women and infants, for more than 30 years.