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Estonia Confirms Support for Turkey’s Integration with the European Union


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Delegations of the Estonian and Turkish foreign ministries discussed matters related to the European Union, and foreign affairs more generally, in Ankara on Wednesday, September 11th. The Estonian delegation was led by Undersecretary for Europe and Transatlantic Relations Mart Laanemäe. Hasan Göğüş, the Deputy Undersecretary for European Affairs, headed the Turkish delegation.

When speaking about Turkey’s integration with the European Union, Undersecretary Mart Laanemäe confirmed Estonia’s support for continuing the process of accession negotiations. “It is important to give Turkey a realistic membership perspective with the goal of making Turkey a plenipotentiary member of the European Union,” said Laanemäe. A new chapter of the accession negotiations dealing with Turkey’s regional policy and structural funds was opened in the June session of the Council of the European Union. Laanemäe added that it is important to progress with visa freedom and the signing of a readmission agreement.

Topics discussed at the meeting included the latest developments in Syria and the broader situation in the Middle East. The Turkish side clarified the situation in neighbouring Syria, which has been the source of over a half-million refugees arriving in Turkey. According to Undersecretary Laanemäe, Estonia’s position is that in resolving the Syrian conflict, external military intervention is the last resort but the use of a chemical weapon is an unacceptable crime against humanity and the perpetrators must be punished according to international law. “At the same time, it is necessary to continue providing humanitarian assistance because the capabilities of neighbouring countries are becoming exhausted,” said Undersecretary Laanemäe. Estonia recently decided to support the alleviation of the humanitarian situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey and Iraq through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with 250,000 Euros.

When speaking about bilateral relations between Estonia and Turkey, Undersecretary Mart Laanemäe noted that relations are very good and close and the countries share joint positions on many questions. “There is still a good deal of potential for development in economic relations. For example, we recommend that investors cooperate with the Baltic Turkish Trade Association (BTTA) to find new opportunities,” said Laanemäe. The Estonian and Turkish representatives expressed content that the Turkish national airline company Turkish Airlines has opened a Tallinn-Istanbul connection which has become successful and popular among travellers. Every week, over 400 passengers fly from Tallinn to Istanbul or back on Turkish Airlines flights. Deputy Undersecretary Hasan Göğüş said that, while he served as Ambassador to India, Turkish Airlines began flights there and it led to an exponential increase in economic relations and trade.

During the discussion of bilateral defence relations, Undersecretary Laanemäe expressed content about Turkey’s decision to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and send another expert there. The two sides agreed to continue regular discussions between themselves in the future.


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