Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar has said recent remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which included some criticism of Turkey for alleged double standards in its relations with Russia and Ukraine, have been taken out of context in an attempt to ruin Turkish-Ukrainian relations, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Zelensky attracted criticism from pro-government and nationalist circles in Turkey when during a recent interview with the Greek newspaper EPT News he criticized Turkey, along with Greece, for taking steps to increase the number of Russian tourists visiting these countries.
“On the one hand, Turkey acts as a mediator and supports Ukraine with important steps, and on the other hand, we see, for example, it preparing several tourist routes at the same time, especially for Russian tourism,” Zelensky said.
“You can’t deal with it that way, it’s a double standard. This is not fair. That’s why I draw Turkey’s attention to it. I believe it can’t be this way because a choice must be made — are you in favor of the truth or not?” asked the Ukrainian president.
NATO member Turkey, which has friendly ties with both Russia and Ukraine, has been mediating for an end the ongoing war, which began on Feb. 24. Turkey has so far held two rounds of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, in the southern province of Antalya in March and in İstanbul in April.
The Ukrainian ambassador said in a written statement on Monday that there were deliberate efforts to take the statements of the Ukrainian president out of context in order to overshadow the Ukrainian-Turkey strategic partnership. He said Zelensky is grateful to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his political support and appreciates Turkey’s efforts to end the Russian aggression and to pursue the maintenance of peace.
Turkey has not joined Western sanctions against Russia and welcomes Russian oligarchs who face sanctions from Western countries.
The Turkish government, which is in dire need of tourism revenue in the wake of the economic woes in the country, has recently announced plans for around $300 million in loans for Turkish tourism companies doing business with Russia and increased flights to and from Moscow and other cities to create more revenue for its tourism industry. Turkey attracts its largest number of tourists from Russia.
Meanwhile, President Erdoğan said in a statement on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “very sensitive” about Turkey’s need for tourism revenue and has already pledged his support.
Erdoğan said the war in Ukraine shouldn’t negatively affect the tourism season.
Turkey suffers from skyrocketing inflation, which surged to 61.14 percent in March, and needs tourists’ foreign currencies.