Russian Ambassador to Ankara Aleksey Yerhov made important evaluations regarding Turkey-Russia relations.
TURKEY WORKS TIRED FOR PEACE
– Can we get your evaluations on Ankara’s facilitating role and diplomatic activities for peace?
Speaking to Yeni Şafak, Yerhov said, “Peace is what we all strive for, and the efforts of Turkey and its leadership to find a negotiated solution, for example in Ukraine, deserve the greatest appreciation. Turkey works tirelessly in this direction and is generally successful. For this, three It is enough to remember the meeting of the foreign minister in Antalya or the negotiations at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. There was significant progress, but the Ukrainian side later rejected them. We know and appreciate that Turkey has constantly emphasized that it is ready to host new Russian-Ukrainian contacts on its territory ( “I hope that one day Turkish diplomacy will be able to say again its positive word about the resumption of negotiations, as it was when the “grain deal” was reached,” he said.
PAST IS PAST
– How does the high-level dialogue and cooperation between Turkey and Russia, both between leaders and institutions, affect the future of bilateral relations?
Historians confuse the numbers when trying to calculate exactly how many times Russia and Turkey have fought over the past centuries and conclude that ‘there were at least 12 major wars involving armies of 100,000, apart from minor conflicts’. Of course, such a history left a deep imprint in the historical memory of both peoples, taking root in distrust and even a certain fear. By the way, it is enough to remember the Turkish proverb that Turkish social media users often remind us that ‘friendship with a bear is impossible’.
But in a Russian proverb, it is said ‘the past is past’. Of course, we should not forget the past, but it is necessary to look forward by learning from it. We are in the 21st century, we are in the 3rd millennium and without exaggeration, our planet is going through tectonic transformations. The climate is changing rapidly, science and technology are developing rapidly (will it bring goodness?), significant changes are taking place in international relations. Old alliances are collapsing before our eyes and new ones are emerging, the post-war international legal system is being deliberately liquidated, and instead they are vigorously trying to establish a kind of ‘rules-based order’ that undermines the sovereignty and independence of countries and peoples.
IT IS A VITAL NEED FOR OUR PEOPLE
In this paradigm, the nation-state interests of the leading ‘actors’ are also subject to significant changes. Take a look, Russia, which has been provoked against Turkey for centuries, suddenly becomes necessary and beneficial to Turkey, and Russia needs Turkey more and sees it as useful. This situation forces us not only to approach our bilateral relations with a new perspective, but also to take the most decisive steps for the gradual development of bilateral relations in the best interests of the two countries. And today it turns out that harmonizing each other’s interests is not only possible, but necessary. I say without exaggeration; this is a vital need for our peoples.
Our leaders, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who respond to such needs, set a good example for the executive bodies of Russia and Turkey. This year alone, our leaders met twice in person and made ten phone calls. It is clear that there will be more contact, because the year is not over yet. Dialogue between our relevant institutions continues actively. Thus, we pave the way for a common future through joint efforts that concern both sides. Maybe someone doesn’t like it, but those who want to resist the normal course of events need to understand that life goes on and will go on, it cannot be stopped, just as it is impossible to stop the flow of a great river, the will of peoples for friendship and cooperation is indestructible and irresistible. Therefore, we will continue to work and develop the potential of bilateral cooperation.
A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR BRAINSTORMING
– Russian President Vladimir Putin invited President Tayyip Erdoğan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit. How would you interpret this development?
Let me make a correction; Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received the official invitation from the host of the summit, President of Uzbekistan Şevket Mirziyoyev. However, one thing is very clear. According to their invitation, they value the ideas of Turkey and its leader, they want to talk, consult and think together about the future of Eurasia and the world. The summit of an influential organization such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization provides a good opportunity for such a joint “brainstorm”.
THE CASE OF CHERNOBIL IS IN OUR MEMORY
– What exactly is going on at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant? In this context, how do you see the news in the Western media?
Western media, as always, distorts and sometimes blatantly lies. The situation is very simple: The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant was taken under control by the Russian army in March of this year. This is the largest nuclear facility with 6 reactors with a total capacity of 6,000 megawatts. Its safety is of the utmost importance, the example of Chernobyl is vivid in our memory, showing how dangerous a leak of nuclear material can be, and that can happen if a projectile hits one of the ‘sensitive’ units of the station. Damage to the spent nuclear fuel storage facility at the power plant could be even more dangerous. The facility consists of 380 concrete containers containing ‘fuel bundles’ removed from the reactor. If this warehouse is bombed, the damage could be worse than Chernobyl, scientists say, and the radioactive ‘trace’ could reach Turkey’s northern coast.
BOMBERS HAVE BEEN REGULAR AND INTENSE
Beginning around July of this year, the NGS is being targeted by the Ukrainian armed forces and in recent days the bombardments have become regular and intense. This may be due to Kiev receiving more new arms shipments. As a result, all 4 power lines connecting the nuclear power plant to Ukraine’s energy system were damaged. In one of the latest developments, on August 28, the Armed Forces of Ukraine used a drone to attack the territory of the nuclear power plant. The UAV was hit while approaching the special facility No. 1, where solid radioactive waste is stored as well as nuclear fuel. Also, the bombardment of Energodar, the satellite city of the nuclear power plant, continues; On August 28, the Ukrainian army fired eight large-caliber mortar shells at residential areas. Two shells exploded near the nuclear power plant.
WE CANNOT FIRE THE FACILITY WE ARE
Western media accuse the Russian army of bombing the power plant. Such an accusation is absurd, because we cannot shoot at a facility we are in. For example, when you say that someone is shooting at your soldiers in Tel Rifat or Manbij, they say to you: ‘No, friends, you are shooting at yourself and go from there, we will send a peacekeeping force there.’ This accusation is something like that. Or another accusation: Our army places its armored vehicles around the power plant, when they are fired on, the nuclear power plant is also hit. If we do not place air defense systems in the power plant area, how else can we protect the power plant against missile attacks?
In general, Russia is very open, we are ready to show the nuclear power plant, the situation around it, to international experts, mainly from the International Atomic Energy Agency. We will hope that the prepared visit will not be canceled at the last moment, as it was before, that experts will come and see that the truth is on our side.