NEW YORK: Only the Russian and Ukrainian presidents can determine when the war in Ukraine will come to an end, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He emphasised that he could not provide a timeline for the war’s conclusion, Anadolu Agency cited Erdogan as saying in an interview with an American broadcaster, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

“Only the leaders of both parties will be able to tell you,“ he said referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Asked about his discussions with Putin regarding the war’s progress, Erdogan noted that the conflict is expected to continue for “a long time.”

“And for the war to end as soon as possible, we would like to be very hopeful. And Putin is actually on the side of ending this war as soon as possible,“ he said.

The president also said that Russia is as trustworthy as the West.

“I have no reason not to trust them. To the extent the West is reliable, Russia is equally reliable... and at this moment in time, I trust Russia just as much as I trust the West,“ he said.

When asked about recent remarks he made on parting ways with the EU if necessary, the president said that Turkiye attaches great importance to decisions made by the EU and will welcome any positive step forward.

“Turkiye has been lingering at the doorstep of the EU for the last five decades. And we were always self-sufficient. We never relied on contributions or support we received from the EU, so it’s not even necessary for us,“ he added.

President Erdogan also reiterated that Sweden’s NATO bid and Turkiye’s current position within the EU accession negotiations are two separate issues.

“We have repeatedly stated that we were ready to support Sweden to join NATO. But Sweden is supposed to rise up to the occasion and keep their promises because on the streets of Stockholm, we still see terrorists wandering around freely,“ he said.

The Turkish leader was referring to supporters of the PKK and FETO terror groups in the country. He has repeatedly urged Stockholm to take measures against these supporters who, he said, were roaming freely.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership shortly after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022.

Although Turkiye approved Finland’s NATO membership, it is waiting for Sweden to fulfill its commitments not to provide shelter to terrorists or supporters of terrorists and not to facilitate their actions.

The president said that Sweden’s bid to join NATO is being assessed by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (parliament) and it is the place where, he said, the accession would be eventually ratified.

“This is part of the agenda of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The Assembly will see the situation within the framework of its own calendar. This proposal will come to a vote by the lawmakers,“ he said.

However, he reiterated that Sweden should keep its promises. - Bernama

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