On the plane on his return to Türkiye after the meeting with President Putin of Russia in Sochi, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan answered journalists' questions and provided remarks.
President Erdoğan said that they had "positively and successfully" concluded their working visit to Sochi at the invitation of President Putin of Russia, adding, "After our meeting with Mr Putin in Tehran on July 19, now in Sochi, we discussed our bilateral ties and international matters in depth. I offered Mr Putin to hold our next High-Level Cooperation Council meeting in Türkiye."
President Erdoğan stressed that challenges in Turkish-Russian relations had been overcome through dialogue and cooperation and added:
"The reciprocal understanding based on mutual trust and respect that we have established with Mr Putin is the foundation of our relationship. Under the current circumstances, it is essential to continue and advance our ties based on our common interests and within the international system. During our bilateral meeting, we discussed in depth the expansion of our economic and commercial cooperation. We have already announced that our trade goal is $100 billion. In this respect, we aim to expand our cooperation in areas such as energy, commerce, tourism, and agriculture. We are striving to achieve a more balanced level of bilateral commerce volume. In Sochi, our Minister of Trade and Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak signed a memorandum of understanding that will serve as a road map for our economic and commercial ties. In addition, we discussed the actions that may be performed against the terrorist organisations nesting in Syria. In our fight against these murderous hordes, who threaten the territorial integrity of Syria and target our soldiers, police, and security forces, civilians, as well as our Syrian brothers and sisters, we have also agreed to give the necessary response together."
"Since the outset, I have stressed that there would be no winners in the war in Ukraine"
President Erdoğan stated that the positive repercussions of their talks with Russia had been seen in the Caucasus, Syria, and Ukraine, adding:
"The initiative to export Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea is the most recent example of this on a global scale. Now, it is crucial to adhere to this initiative in a sensible way and translate the positive atmosphere into tangible actions towards resuming negotiations in Istanbul. Since the outset, I have stressed that there would be no winners in the war in Ukraine. Despite the challenges, I also maintain my conviction that the issue will be handled at the negotiation table. I reiterated to Mr Putin that we are capable of hosting his meeting with Mr Zelensky. In order to contribute to regional and global peace, we will continue to expand the dialogue with our Black Sea neighbour, Russia, in all fields."
President Erdoğan hoped that the meeting in Sochi would lead to auspicious results for the region, particularly for Türkiye and Russia.
"How the parties approach this issue is of utmost importance”
President Erdoğan also answered journalists' questions and responded to the question, "Should we expect a ceasefire in the prevention and termination of the war between Ukraine and Russia, would it occur soon, and would Turkish diplomacy play a role in this regard?" from a journalist as follows, "In fact, Turkish diplomacy is doing its part excellently. There is no problem there; however, how the parties approach this issue is surely of utmost importance. If the parties truly honour their promises, we will have the chance to resolve this issue or be on the course to do so. There is no reason why that cannot occur at this point."
In response to a question referring to the fact that the Syria issue was discussed at the meeting, whether Russia's resistance to such a military operation and its reluctance to it maintained, and the context in which this topic was discussed at the meeting, President Erdoğan said:
"Regarding the issue, Mr Putin maintains a fair stance toward Türkiye. He especially voices how he will remain on our side in the fight against terrorism. At this point, he indicates, 'Presented with the opportunity, it would be far more effective if you preferred to resolve these issues along with the regime.' In response, we say that our intelligence agency is now investigating these issues with the Syrian intelligence service, but the goal is to achieve results. We say, 'If our intelligence is collaborating with the Syrian intelligence on this effort, and if terrorist organisations continue to freely operate there with wild abandon, you must support us in tackling this issue.' We also have an agreement on this matter."
"They absolutely do not embrace the concept of halting the process, either"
Upon the question, "Domestication and nationalisation are one of the points that you have stressed from the beginning when it comes to energy. IC İctaş Construction, which began as an initiative of the Russian side and a Turkish partner, has developed significant knowledge and expertise over time, but recent intriguing development has occurred. And the Russian side, Rosatom, a half-owner of this corporation, ceased and terminated operations, and I wonder if this development was addressed. How do you read this? Could this action cause the project's delay or cause a further subcontracting of the Turkish side? Is there such a risk on the horizon?" directed by a journalist citing the significance of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant as one of the largest projects in the Republic's history, President Erdoğan responded:
"Obviously, it is hard to avoid discussing such a subject. So, we did. The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is of particular relevance to our country's energy policy. Our goal of putting the first reactor at Akkuyu into operation by 2023 remains. We revisited these topics in our talks with the Russian side. It's rumoured that '25,000 individuals are currently unemployed. This establishment has been shut down.' I have never confirmed such a thing, and neither did the Russian side. They are working. Now, when I visit our Abdülhamit Han drilling ship in Taşucu Port, Mersin, next week, I will also visit Akkuyu on the same day. I will personally observe the construction at Akkuyu alongside my delegation. I will then inform Mr Putin about the progress made there and propose that we draw our road map accordingly. One thing is for sure; they absolutely do not embrace the concept of halting the process, either."
"We have reached an agreement with Mr Putin on the rouble"
When asked about the economic dimension of the visit and whether a new natural gas agreement has been reached between Türkiye and Russia, President Erdoğan stated that Türkiye's doors are open to all investors and that they will provide all types of assistance to anyone who chooses to invest in Türkiye.
Remarking, "Because Türkiye is the world's most significant open door to the free market economy, not only in light of recent events." President Erdoğan went on to say:
"Undoubtedly, the rouble agreement with Mr Putin was one of the highlights of this Sochi visit. Since these trades will take place on a rouble basis, it will derive profit for Russia and Türkiye as a separate source of financial power. In addition, there is the MIR card in Russia. Currently, our five banks are still working on this matter. There are also major developments in this regard. This is obviously a very convenient procedure for Russian tourists. They can use them for shopping and hotel payments. Obviously, this system is quite pleasant for both them and us. During this visit, the Governor of the Central Bank of Russia and our Governor of the Central Bank also held talks."
"We also find the attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in London unacceptable"
After a journalist pointed to a "sobriety" message received from Russia for both sides on the tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, President Erdoğan responded to the question "Will the tension climb?" by stating:
"Two days ago, my brother Ilham and I discussed these matters at length. First and foremost, we condemn the attack that resulted in the martyrdom of one of our Azerbaijani brothers. Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory located within Azerbaijan's globally recognised borders. Naturally, Azerbaijan is opposed to the presence of any illegally armed agents on its territory. It has been nearly two years since the Tripartite Declaration. It is essential that Armenia fulfil its commitments as quickly as possible. We also find the attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in London unacceptable. We trust that this incident will be examined thoroughly, and the perpetrators will receive the appropriate penalty."
President Erdoğan weighed in on the China-Taiwan tensions, saying, "We keep a close eye on what is happening in the region. We must not allow a fresh crisis to emerge at a time when the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic are still having a detrimental impact on the world economy and stability."
Upon the question recalling Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, "China started an exercise simulating an invasion scenario after the Speaker of the House had left Taiwan. Where do you believe this conflict will go? In which ways would a hypothetical conflict in the Pacific affect Türkiye's position? Are we ready, especially in the event of an economic crisis?" President Erdoğan responded, "We are ready for all. There is no problem."
President Erdoğan highlighted the significance of all sides exercising common sense and restraint in order to alleviate the tensions surrounding Taiwan, saying, "We keep a close eye on what is happening in the region. We must not allow a fresh crisis to emerge at a time when the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic are still having a detrimental impact on the world economy and stability.
The "Shanghai Five" summit
President Erdoğan remarked, "The Shanghai Five will meet in Uzbekistan in September. Mr Putin also asked us during our meeting to attend the summit, which we intend to do if all goes well," and added:
"We wish to be alongside the countries that will participate in the summit, whether as Shanghai Five members, observers, or dialogue partners. China, for example, is attending, as are Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We intend to be there with them. Inshallah, unless something extraordinary happens at the moment, I'll be there. We could assess these matters much more effectively there."
"Germany and France have become instruments to Greek propaganda"
Following the question, "Europe is experiencing a profound energy crisis. On the other hand, both Germany and France are targeting Türkiye by embracing and backing Greece's unfounded claims. How do you read the Berlin and Paris statements at a time when Türkiye is laying out a diplomatic strategy that could resolve the grain and energy crises?" President Erdoğan recounted how Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşolu provided the proper response to these "biased" statements.
President Erdoğan called attention to the fact that Germany and France have become instruments to Greek propaganda, saying:
"It is unacceptable to accuse our country with inaccurate assessments while turning a blind eye to Greece's contempt for international law. The importance of Türkiye to the stability and security of Europe is evident. We have once again proved our leading role in resolving the global grain crisis. The Razoni dry cargo ship was the first of its kind, with approximately 20 ships following in its wake. Above all, Russia is currently asserting, 'We are prepared and possess the capability to deploy our cargo ships. When will you be our mediator?' As they are currently responsible for such matters, our relevant ministries, most notably our Ministry of Commerce, are promptly addressing this situation. After signing this document, his responsibilities have expanded even further. Russia asserts, 'I have too much product. For instance, I can ship out at least 40 million tonnes of products right now.' Obviously, there are also people with ill intentions who disseminate rumours that Türkiye has halted the ships. This is not the truth. In contrast, just as the first ship has sailed to Lebanon, all the other ships, like the first, will be en route to their destination countries by passing through our country. Türkiye will mediate it in the most effective manner. We will now build on the successes we achieved with the agreement in Istanbul.”
In response to a question noting that the Chief of Greece's National Intelligence Service had resigned, "The reason was the detection of spyware on the mobile phone of the Greek opposition leader. Allegedly, Mitsotakis's nephew is also involved. Do you have any remarks regarding this?" President Erdoğan said, "I do not interfere in the internal affairs of Greece. This pertains to their internal affairs."
"This is a variant of the well-known attacks of the terrorist organisation PKK"
Upon the question on the attack in the Zakho district of the Duhok province in Iraq, "Before even the burial of nine civilians, they fabricated that the Turkish Armed Forces were to blame. What is the current situation in Zakho? Some believe it to be a global conspiracy against Türkiye. Does such a conspiracy exist? Is there a group attempting such a conspiracy during a time when an operation in Syria is planned?" President Erdoğan said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence have previously made statements on the issue.
President Erdoğan remarked, "This is a variant of the well-known attacks of the terrorist organisation PKK," and added:
"Just as they had previously committed such acts and then fled, just as they had chosen to lay low, they have done the same thing today and laid the blame instantly on the Turkish Armed Forces, on Türkiye, after committing such assassinations. This is the actuality. We stand by our previous statements. Obviously, our Directorate of Communications also communicated it to other European nations, and notably to the United States, and the process continues in this manner. We have indicated from the outset that we can assist in any situation by talking, meeting, and communicating with our local interlocutors and that we will do our utmost to reveal the truth. Our offer remains valid. They offered their thanks in return. We even informed them that we could give medical assistance to the injured if they so wished. We stated that we could provide help not just in Northern Iraq or Iraq but also in our city hospitals, training and research hospitals in our nearest provinces, be it a surgery or a care service. We extended our condolences to all of our interlocutors. We also asserted that civilians, the environment, as well as the historical, religious, and cultural structures were inviolable in all of our operations from the start and that we planned and executed them with the utmost care and sensitivity than any army. After the incident in Zakho, our Consulate in Mosul was attacked. Even though this location was a civilian target, an open attack was carried out on purpose. Everybody should see who strikes civilian targets and who is capable of committing this infamy."
Upon a question about the incidents in Zakho, President Erdoğan said:
"As you know, I visited the families of all our brothers and sisters who died in that incident in Uludere. I met them at the inauguration of Şerafettin Elçi Airport in Şırnak. I also personally asked First Lady to visit Uludere. She flew to Uludere and held talks with those families. Therefore, we do not have an opportunistic approach, nor do we have a plan to meet with these people just when the opportunity presents itself. We have done, are doing and will continue to do what is required for the benefit of all our citizens. Regarding rights, we have no issues with our citizens; this is something we really believe in.”