The Istanbul process still stands as the most important opportunity for the international society to achieve a cease-fire and establish peace in Ukraine, Turkey's communications director said on Tuesday.
Fahrettin Altun attended a conference on Russia-Ukraine War and Its Effects on Turkey: Threats and Opportunities held at the Bestepe Exhibition Hall of the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara.
Speaking at the opening session of the conference, Altun said: “Turkey has earned the trust of both Russia and Ukraine with its facilitating role in the ongoing negotiation process.”
Turkey has shown that it cannot be forced to choose between the two countries amid the ongoing war, Altun stressed.
He urged everyone to support the negotiation process underway in Istanbul, a demand also voiced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Altun also praised Turkey's initiative to hold talks at the margins of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, and its efforts for the establishment of a negotiation table in Istanbul.
The Turkish metropolis of Istanbul late last month hosted landmark peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations.
On March 10, Turkey made headlines worldwide for hosting the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the southern Turkish city of Antalya, the highest-level meeting of the two sides since the war began on Feb. 24.
“Recently, all international actors have seen Turkey's specific weight and influence in the international arena,” Altun noted.
The approaches put forward in the Western capitals to despise Turkey , and the geopolitical readings and order established on this basis have collapsed, said the senior Turkish official, adding that the current situation obliges the West to adopt a new form of relationship with his country.
The facilitating role Turkey played in the negotiations between warring sides showed that the country adopts a constructive approach and takes initiative when necessary for the resolution of the recent crisis, he underlined.
“While Turkey condemned the rights violations in Ukraine, it also rejected the criminalization of Russian cuisine, culture, and academia to ensure peace and stability in the region,” Altun added.
Europe's double standard in refugee issue
Altun highlighted that what is going on in Ukraine today is the result of a lack of strategic vision, lack of foresight, and indifference put forward by Western countries during the Syrian crisis.
The West, which has turned a blind eye to the systematic rights violations in Syria for years, has a serious responsibility in the recent situation in Ukraine today, Altun noted, saying: “The foundations of the road to the Ukrainian war were laid in Syria.”
“If Western countries could have intervened in the tragedies that took place in Syria in the real sense, we would not be talking about the Ukrainian war today,” said Altun.
Many international norms have been violated and even the use of chemical weapons has been ignored in Syria, according to Altun.
He also criticized the double standard against Syrian refugees, saying: “You can't talk about universal principles and human rights standards if you don't open your door to all people regardless of their religion and ethnicity.”
“As virtuous as it is to embrace millions of people fleeing from Ukraine, it is equally unscrupulous to leave Syrians refugees for dead,” Altun said.
“While the West suffered a serious loss of credibility as a result of this double standard, Turkey has been the bearer of a realism based on principles,” Altun noted.
Altun also hailed the level that Turkey has reached in the field of defense industry with the vision of President Erdogan and the efforts of the Turkish engineers.
“The crisis in Ukraine has also revealed the progress in the Turkish defense industry despite all obstacles,” said Altun.
Turkey has won widespread praise for its efforts to end the war, helped by its unique position in having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine.
The war that started on Feb. 24 has met international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 2,072 civilians have been killed and 2,818 injured in Ukraine so far in the war which started on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates, with the true figure believed to be much higher.
More than 4.9 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7 million more internally displaced, said the UN refugee agency.