Turkey ‘deeply concerned’ over events in Ukraine

Turkey has said it is “deeply concerned” over latest events in eastern and southern Ukraine, stressing the importance of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and solving the problems through democratic means.

A statement Foreign Ministry released on Tuesday said it is necessary that views about Ukraine’s political future should be expressed through democratic ways in this “sensitive period”, and highlighted the significance of maintaining the country’s territorial integrity. It also urged parties to avoid illegal acts in Ukraine.

Ankara said it has always recommended all parties in Ukraine to put forward their views and demands through peaceful means and act with common sense to preserve peace and stability in Ukraine. The statement said Ankara hopes that Ukrainian authorities continue to maintain their restrained position in controlling events and establishing the public order.

Turkey said it reiterates its support for the neighboring country to hold presidential elections on May 25 in peaceful atmosphere and in free and fair conditions.

Turkey’s statement came hours after the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, as government forces said they clashed with about 30 armed gunmen at a small airport.

The clash came hours after Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, had announced an “anti-terrorist operation” against the armed, pro-Russian insurgents who had seized control of numerous buildings in at least nine cities in Ukraine’s restive east.

The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, who it says are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia. The insurgents are demanding broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia, and complicating the political landscape, many local security forces have switched to their side.