Turkey, Politics

Turkey aims to bolster regional cooperation: Parliament speaker

Turkey supports perspective of members in region to integrate with EU, NATO from day one, says Mustada Sentop

Ayse Yildiz and Hatice Ozdemir Tosun   | 22.06.2021
Turkey aims to bolster regional cooperation: Parliament speaker


Turkey aims to enhance cooperation and dialogue in the region, the country’s parliament speaker said Tuesday.

"Our aim is to strengthen the future of Southeast Europe, which we aim to be remembered with peace, prosperity and friendly relations, by developing stability, trust and cooperation in our region,” Mustafa Sentop told the 8th Plenary Session of South East European Cooperation Process Parliamentary Assembly (SEECP PA) in Antalya, a Turkish Mediterranean resort city.

Delivering the opening speech of the meeting, Sentop highlighted the current global challenges such as xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-immigration sentiment.

He said Turkey works towards developing a common vision on the basis of human values against such challenges.

“We aim to strengthen regional cooperation and dialogue by utilizing the opportunities of the platform, which reflects the common will and unique characteristic of the actors in Southeast Europe and sets an example of regional ownership that makes a difference,” he said.

Turkey carries out the term presidency of the assembly for the third time, he said, adding that priorities of the term presidency were determined based on the principles of inclusiveness and regional ownership, which are the basic principles of the SEECP.

Sentop added that Turkey has focused on the development of cooperation mechanisms specific to the region in that regard.

“We support the perspective of the participants in the region to integrate with the EU and NATO from day one, and we emphasize that the reforms should continue,” he said.

He urged for an immediate start of EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, and added: “We want and support other candidates and potential candidates to accelerate their integration processes with the EU.”

He also underlined that Turkey is an indispensable part of the Balkans regarding its geography, history and socio-cultural background, and that discourses that try to portray Turkey as a non-regional actor should not be given credit.

The assembly should have a permanent secretariat that will transform its contribution to the regional integration efforts and European integration processes into permanent gains in the long run, Sentop said.

Emphasis on strengthening ties

Speaking at the event, Aleksa Becic, the head of the Montenegrin parliament, said that Turkey hosts an important event.

Praising Ankara’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the country aided both Montenegro and other countries to overcome the disease.

Becic stressed that sincere steps should be taken to strengthen regional ties between the countries.

Talat Xhaferi, North Macedonia’s parliament speaker, said for his part that they work on boosting neighborly relations among Southeast Asia countries.

Xhaferi stated that the issues of regional stability, border security and territorial integrity are under constant threat.

“Mixed migrations are the responsibility of all of us, not just one state,” he said, adding that with sincere cooperation, open dialogue and reasonable solutions to conflicts, countries can move forward without causing new conflicts.

The meeting was also attended by Vasilika Hysi, the vice-chair of the Albanian parliament, as well as deputies from Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some lawmakers from Serbia, Slovenia, and Greece attended the event online.

This year’s gathering under the term presidency of Turkey also marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the SEECP.

The SEECP foreign ministers’ meeting was also held in Antalya province last week.

The group brings together Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Croatia, Moldova, and Montenegro and “is a symbol of the common will of the countries of the region to improve cooperation among themselves and to bring lasting stability in South East Europe,” according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Greece will assume the next term presidency of the SEECP.

*Contributions and writing by Sena Guler in Ankara

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