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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Increase of Tempo Needed in Turkey’s Movement Towards European Union

11.05.2012

No. 127-E

At his meeting in Tallinn today with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia continues to be a supporter of Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union. “Therefore it is essential that the positive agenda to support negotiations with Turkey does not become a replacement for accession negotiations. Opportunities must be found to move forward with accession negotiations and open new negotiation chapters,” he stated.

“It is positive that political dialogue between the European Union and Turkey on essential foreign and security topics has recently become more profound, considering Turkey’s important role in the Middle East, North Africa, and in general,” he added.

Paet emphasised that Estonia also supports a visa dialogue with Turkey with the goal of establishing a visa waiver between the European Union and Turkey and concluding a readmission agreement. “We are of the position that the European Union should establish a visa waiver first and foremost for its closest partners. Turkey, as an EU candidate country, is one of the countries with which we should make rapid progress on this issue,” he added.

Estonia greatly appreciates Turkey’s contribution to airspace security in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and its co-operation in NATO. Estonia welcomes Turkey to join the NATO Cyber Defence Centre in Tallinn as a full member.

Paet stated that Turkey also plays an important role in resolving the conflict in Syria and helping refugees. “It is essential that the parties to the Syria conflict begin looking for solutions through negotiations and that they abstain from further violence. Therefore we feel it’s necessary to send a UN observation mission to Syria,” said Paet. “Estonia is also prepared to send one of its Defence Forces members to Syria as an observer,” he added.

Over the past few years the political, economic and cultural relations between Estonia and Turkey have developed tremendously. “Last week a joint Estonia-Turkey Nordic walking event from Asia to Europe over the Bosphorus Bridge took place in Istanbul and was very well-attended. In addition to promoting fitness activities, the events also introduced Estonia in general,” said Paet.

The foreign minister said that there is Estonia Opera’s performance of “Rigoletto” in the ancient Aspendos amphitheatre in June and other similar initiatives to look forward to. “We hope that a direct flight will soon be opened between Tallinn and Istanbul. This would help to enliven economic relations and increase tourism,” he said.
During their meeting the foreign ministers also addressed the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago and recent development in Iran and Iraq as well as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Urmas Paet and Ahmet Davutoglu will also participate in the opening event of the Estonia-Turkey Intercultural Trade and Education Association (EESTÜRK) today.

Photos from the meeting: http://tinyurl.com/bl6o3ne

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