Turkey is committed to a strategic partnership with Ukraine, intends to expand cooperation with Kyiv in defense and does not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, said Turkish President Recep Erdogan after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul.
"We stand for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We reaffirmed our principled decision not to recognize the annexation of Crimea," Erdogan said, adding that he also supports the Crimean Platform, Kyiv's initiative to involve the international community in solving the peninsula problem.
"We hope that this initiative will bring positive results for all the peoples of Crimea, including the Crimean Tatars," TASS quoted the Turkish president as saying.
According to Erdogan, during the meeting with Zelensky, it was decided to start negotiations on strengthening cooperation in the defense industry.
"We have started new consultations in the 2+2 format (talks of the foreign ministers and the Defense Ministry of the two countries)," Erdogan said. - . Our cooperation in the defence industry is by no means an initiative against third countries."
As a result of the talks, Erdogan and Zelesnky issued a joint declaration emphasizing Ukraine's plans to join NATO.
"It was agreed to express support for the prospect of Ukraine's membership in NATO, in particular its intention to be accepted in the NATO Membership Action Plan in the near future," the document reads.
After the talks, Zelensky stressed Kyiv and Ankara have similar positions on the security of the Black Sea region, both with regard to the threats and the response to these threats.
According to Zelensky, Turkey's support for restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity is very important for Ukraine, and he was "happy to hear from President Erdogan that this support will continue."
A day earlier, Erdogan held telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, according to the Kremlin’s press service, "explained Russian approaches" to resolving the crisis in the Donbas and accused Kyiv of "dangerous provocative actions aimed at exacerbating the situation on the line of contact."
Putin also stressed the importance of observing the 1936 Montreux Convention, which regulates passage of ships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which are the gateway for the Russian Black Sea fleet to the world's oceans.
On Friday, in accordance with the Montreux Convention, the United States notified Turkey of two U.S. warships heading to the Black Sea amid the escalation in southeastern Ukraine. They will enter the Black Sea area on April 14 and will stay there until May 4.