Erdoğan hosts Zelensky, says Ukraine deserves membership in NATO


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed support early on July 8 for Ukraine joining NATO, saying the war-torn country deserves to join the alliance.

Erdoğan made the comment at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who arrived in Türkiye as part of a European tour to rally support for Ukraine’s entry into the military alliance after the war with Russia comes to an end.

NATO leaders meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week are expected to reaffirm that Ukraine will join their alliance one day.

“There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves NATO membership,” Erdoğan told reporters,

His support for Ukraine comes as Türkiye has been holding off giving its final approval to Sweden joining NATO, saying Stockholm is not effectively cracking down on PKK terror organization.

Erdoğan also said Türkiye was working toward extending a Turkish- and U.N.-brokered grain deal that has paved the way for the shipment of more than 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

The deal, which helped temper rising global food prices, is set to expire July 17. Russia has been reluctant to extend the deal, citing obstacles to its own exports of food and fertilizer.

“We are continuing our work on the grain corridor issue. We are working to see how long we can extend it after July 17,” Erdoğan said.

Zelensky accused Russia of obstructing the movement of ships.

“Russia behaves as if it owns the entire Black Sea, as if it is the owner here,” said Zelensky, making his first trip to Türkiye since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Erdoğan said Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Türkiye in August, when he hoped to discuss renewal of the Black Sea grain deal as well as a possible prisoner swap.

Türkiye has maintained close ties with both Ukraine and Russia, using its relations to both to act as a mediator.__Daily Hurriyet