West Shouldn’t Underestimate Russia, Should End ‘Provocative’ Policy in Ukraine, Erdogan Says
11:47 GMT 07.09.2022 (Updated: 20:56 GMT 19.10.2022)
Europe is in the midst of its worst energy and inflationary crisis since the 1970s Arab oil embargo, with the catastrophe sparked by European leaders' decision to dramatically reduce the purchase of Russian energy supplies to try to "punish" Russia for its military operation in Ukraine. Turkey has so far managed to avoid the worst of the crisis.
Europe should not have "underestimated" Russia, and should have thought about the consequences of the current energy crisis ahead of time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested.
"I don't see a speedy resolution [of the crisis in Ukraine]. But I say to those who underestimate Russia: you are wrong. Russia is not a country that can be underestimated. Russia reduced deliveries of gas and prices in Europe ballooned. Everyone is engaged in pensive thought on the problem. Why didn't you think about it earlier?" Erdogan asked, speaking at a press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Wednesday.
"Of course Russia will use all the means at its disposal when everyone attacks it. We hope to reach peace as soon as possible to stop this matter. Let the world find peace again," Erdogan said.
"I can say very clearly that I don't think the attitude of the West [toward the Ukrainian crisis] is correct. Because the West is pursuing a policy based on provocations," the Turkish president added, suggesting that Turkey's position on the issue has been far more "balanced."
"They say that they're sending weapons to Ukraine. They had some scrap metal, and they're sending it to Ukraine," Erdogan said.
19 August 2022, 08:06 GMT
For his part, Vucic asked Erdogan for assistance in supplying Serbia with electricity from energy-rich Azerbaijan, saying Belgrade has already reached an agreement with Baku and Bulgaria on the purchase and transit of roughly two gigawatt hours-worth. "This cannot be done without Turkey, and I asked President Erdogan to help with the transport of Azerbaijani electricity to our country," Vucic said.
The Serbian president also indicated that Belgrade is in line to purchase Turkey's Bayraktar strike drones, and expressed hope that the country will receive them in 2023.
"We want to buy the Bayraktar UAV, but can see that the whole world wants them, so we got in line, and are waiting and hoping that next year we will be able to implement the deal. I think our ministers had good discussions, and that next year Serbia will be able to get them. We are ready to expand our demand for Bayraktars, and to pay significantly more than the originally agreed upon tens of millions of euros for them - a sum of several hundred million euros," Vucic said.
Vucic also commented on the energy crisis rocking Europe, saying that if his country had not stocked up on Russian gas ahead of time, it would also be facing a catastrophe.
Like Serbia, Turkey has been able to avoid
the worst of the energy crisis pummeling its European neighbors by maintaining its energy ties with Russia. Last month, Ankara announced a switch of part of its payments for Russian gas to rubles. The country has also continued its purchases of Russian oil. Furthermore, Turkey and Russia are engaged in cooperation on the construction of a massive nuclear power plant
at Akkuyu in southern Turkey. Once operational, the plant will provide Turkey with up to 10 percent of its electricity needs.
20 August 2022, 09:31 GMT