Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his belief that Ukraine should be granted NATO membership during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Erdogan’s statement came on Friday evening and he also showed support for extending the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports. Additionally, he mentioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Turkey the following month.
Erdogan stated, as reported by CNN, “There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves NATO membership.” Zelensky responded, “I’m glad to hear that.” Erdogan also emphasized the importance of both sides involved in the Ukrainian conflict returning to peace talks.
President Zelensky has consistently voiced his aspirations for Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. However, he acknowledged that this would only be feasible once the war with Russia concludes.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the leaders of alliance countries would affirm Ukraine’s future membership during an upcoming summit in Lithuania. However, he cautioned against specifying a timeline for this commitment.
In addition to endorsing Ukraine’s membership, Erdogan advocated for extending the grain deal between Ukraine and Russia, which was facilitated by Turkey and the United Nations. The agreement, effective since last July, enabled the export of significant quantities of food from Ukrainian ports that had been previously closed due to the Russian-induced conflict. Moscow has expressed reservations about its continuation, and if not extended, it will expire on June 17.
Zelensky, who has faced Russian aggression since February of the previous year, embarked on a tour of alliance countries including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Turkey. This visit preceded the upcoming NATO summit, where the Ukrainian president will participate in the newly established NATO-Ukraine Council.