Spokesman for the Turkish presidency Ibrahim Kalin confirmed that the Russian side has not yet responded clearly regarding the extension of the term of the Ukrainian grain transfer agreement.
This came in an interview with a local channel on Tuesday, in which Kalin explained that the agreement to transport grain from the Black Sea will expire on November 16 or 19.
And he indicated that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to extend the agreement for a period of 3, 6 months or a year.
He pointed out that Turkey had received positive indications, but the Russians had not yet provided a clear answer about extending the agreement.
Kalin expressed his optimism about a positive Russian response to the Turkish proposal, noting that President Erdogan is the only leader who can get results from Russia on the agreement.
“No European or American leader can talk to Mr. Putin on these issues,” he added.
Kalin said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths also negotiated with Russia on the issue.
On the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, they said that President Erdogan’s invitation was still valid and that Ukrainian President Zelensky was ready to meet with Putin before the decision to annex (Russia’s annexation of 4 Ukrainian regions), while Putin was hesitant.
And he continued, “But after the decision to annex, Putin expressed his willingness to meet.”
He pointed out that the Ukrainian side was right in saying: “We have nothing to discuss before the Russian army withdraws from these places and cancels the annexation decision.”
Kalin stressed the need to keep the door of diplomacy open despite all these difficulties, and that Turkey would continue its efforts despite the lack of ground for talks at the present time.
In another matter, Kalin touched on the statements of Greek officials and the arming of demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea, stressing that Turkey has been on the side of dialogue and good relations since the beginning.
He said, “Greece does not have the opportunity and the possibility to build a power on its own, and it can only do so by relying on the European Union or the lobby in the United States of America.”
He added, “We told them we are allies in NATO and we share the same region and face similar challenges from terrorism to the issue of immigration and from the Ukraine war to other issues, so there is no need to fight each other.”
He stressed that arming the islands with non-military status violates international agreements, stressing that Turkey will not remain idly by if Greece takes such steps.
On Putin’s proposal to establish a huge natural gas center in Turkey, Kalin said that the proposal is important for Turkey and that the issue has many legal and technical aspects.
He pointed out that Europe has two alternatives to Russian gas, which are either increasing the capacity in the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) by adding Turkmenistan gas to Azerbaijani gas or adding Iranian gas.
He stressed that if the capacity of the TANAP project is increased, it will become a very important alternative for energy security in Europe.
Kalin stated that preparations for the natural gas distribution center in Turkey have begun and that the center will give Turkey a great strategic gain in the medium and long term and become a huge center for energy distribution.
He continued, “If we extract our reserves of natural gas in the Black and Mediterranean Sea in the future, this infrastructure will transfer Turkey to high levels of energy.”
Kalin explained that according to Putin’s statement, the Russian authorities had prevented the attempt to sabotage the “Turkish Stream” natural gas pipelines, and that they had arrested 4-5 people for the attempted sabotage.
He pointed out that the Russian side says that the sabotage attempt was by Ukraine and that Russia prevented the accident.
He stated that security measures have been tightened and that the Russian side has also taken steps in this direction.
Regarding Turkish energy payments to Russia, Kalin explained that there are no problems in terms of supply or payment and that all necessary measures have been taken to meet all kinds of energy needs in the country.
In response to a question about Erdogan’s statements about the possibility of meeting with the President of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, when the time comes, Kalin confirmed that there is no planned meeting at the present time at the political level.
He added, “The intelligence and our concerned colleagues meet and talk. Why? Because we support advancing the political process in Syria.”
He stressed the importance of reviving the Geneva process and taking various political steps, noting that “unless the grounds for the safe and dignified return of refugees are prepared, it will not be possible to make progress in other areas.”
On a question about the impact of the current scene on a possible operation of the Turkish armed forces against terrorist groups in northern Syria, Kalin said: “The decisive issue here does not affect our security priorities and concerns.”
He added, “The principle set by President Erdogan is very clear… ‘We may come to you suddenly one night’… As long as the security threats from Syria to Turkey continue, this doctrine will continue.”
Regarding relations with Armenia, Kalin mentioned that there is a possibility to take a series of new steps at the conclusion of the meetings that will be held by the two special representatives and foreign ministers of the two countries in the coming days.
In answering a question about the modernization of F-16 fighters, they said that they had reached a good stage with the United States, indicating the possibility of accelerating the pace of the process at the end of next November.
He pointed out that Turkey will continue to emphasize the illegality and justice of excluding Turkey from the “F-35” fighter program and the sanctions arising from the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, known for its acronym “CATSA”.
He noted that the process regarding the F-16 fighters was positive, and added, “I think there is a strong possibility that this will turn into a concrete decision before the end of this year.”