Erdoğan and Guterres visit Ukraine: Efforts for diplomatic conflict resolution

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres held a high-level meeting with President Vladimir Zelensky in Ukraine on Thursday to find a solution to the war that has been going on for almost six months.

The meeting in Lvov in the west of the country was an opportunity for the United Nations and Turkey to explore a negotiated solution with Ukraine. However, little immediate progress has been reported. Erdoğan reiterated his hope for a diplomatic solution. “I continue to believe that the war will eventually end at the negotiating table.” Selenskij and Guterres also see it that way, Erdoğan said.

The war brought countless deaths, massive destruction and displacement as well as dramatic violations of human rights, said Guterres and warned: “People need peace.” The Turkish president said he would be in touch with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as most of the issues discussed required Kremlin approval.

At their meeting, far from the front lines, the heads of state and government discussed expanding prisoner exchanges and the UN visit to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. During their visit to Ukraine, Turkish President and UN Secretary-General Guterres warned of a catastrophe at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.

On Thursday, a spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry declared a proposal by the UN Secretary-General for a “demilitarized zone” around the power plant to be unacceptable. He justified this with the risk of provocations by Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously announced on Thursday that Kyiv was preparing a “provocation” at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant this Friday.

Zelensky said in Lvov that he saw Erdoğan’s visit as a “strong sign of support” for Ukraine. However, he ruled out a peace settlement with Moscow “as long as Russia does not completely withdraw its soldiers from Ukrainian territory.”

Guterres also announced a reconnaissance mission following the attack on a camp housing Ukrainian POWs in late July. Brazilian General Carlos dos Santos Cruz is said to be in charge of the operation. Moscow accused Ukrainian troops of shelling the Olenowka prison camp near Donetsk.

For his part, Guterres said that the UN will try to increase exports of Ukrainian grain before the winter. Turkey and the United Nations mediated an agreement in July on the transport of Ukrainian grain from the previously blocked Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.

The grain blockade has recently exacerbated global food shortages, driving up prices and increasing fears of famine, particularly in Africa. After the agreement, however, only a small amount of Ukrainian grain has been exported abroad so far – according to Turkish estimates, around 600,000 tons.

more on the subject – Putin to Erdoğan: “Europe must thank Turkey for stable gas supply”

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