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Erdogan supports Ukraine’s NATO membership

Erdogan supports Ukraine’s NATO membership

Despite his closeness to Russia, the Turkish president has remained supportive of that bloc’s efforts.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his support for Ukraine joining NATO. He said the country was ravaged by war and deserved to join the alliance.

Erdogan made the comments at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was in Turkey as part of a European tour to rally support for Ukraine’s entry into a military alliance after the end of the war with Russia.

At next week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Ukraine is expected to reaffirm that it will one day join the alliance.

“There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves membership in NATO,” Erdogan told reporters.

His support for Ukraine comes as Turkey has been slow to give Sweden final approval to join the bloc, saying Stockholm has not cracked down on Kurdish militias and other groups that threaten Ankara’s security.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Sweden, along with Finland, abandoned its decades of neutrality and applied to join NATO.

Turkey’s parliament approved Finland’s membership earlier this year, after Ankara welcomed its efforts to address Turkey’s security concerns.

A Turkish-UN deal that paved the way for the shipment of more than 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. Erdogan also said Turkey was working to extend the brokered grain deal.

The deal, which helped boost global food supplies modestly, expires on July 17.

Russia is reluctant to extend the deal, saying it would hamper its own food and fertilizer exports.

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

Zelensky accused Russia of obstructing the movement of ships.

“Russia is behaving as if it owns the entire Black Sea,” said Zelenskyy, who is making his first trip to Turkey since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Erdogan said Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey in August, when he hopes to discuss renewing the Black Sea Grain Agreement and a possible prisoner exchange.

Turkey maintains close relations with both Ukraine and Russia.

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