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Turkey's Erdogan hosts Zelenskyy, says Ukraine 'deserves' to be NATO member

Turkish President Erdogan’s declaration of support comes amid a fresh push by Kyiv to join the Transatlantic alliance once the war is over.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan checks hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after a joint press conference at the Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul on July 7, 2023. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his support on Friday for Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO once the war is over. 

Speaking at a joint presser with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Istanbul late on Friday, Erdogan lended support to the Ukrainian push to enter the Transatlantic alliance. “Ukraine deserves to be a NATO member,” he said.

The support comes amid Zelenskyy’s fresh push on a European tour for his country’s admission to NATO once the war ends. Speaking in the Czech Republic earlier on Friday, Zelenskyy said the issuance of an invitation for his country to join NATO during the alliance's upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12 would be “ideal.” But such a scenario is still seen unlikely amid US and European concerns of confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia.

Zelenskyy, who traveled to Turkey for the first time since the war began in February 2022, was welcomed by senior Turkish officials as well as Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Baykar, which manufactures Bayraktar armed drones that turned out to be an important asset in Kyiv’s defense strategy against Russia. He later met with Erdogan at a historical Istanbul palace. 

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