On 29 September in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, met with senior officials of the Republic of Turkey to discuss bilateral cooperation bettween the countries, the matters of current importance for cooperation between the European Union and Turkey, especially in the field of migration, cooperation in NATO, and a broad range of international and regional issues. Views were also shared on the situation following the attempted coup in Turkey on 15 July.
In a meeting with İsmail Kahraman, the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament, the Foreign Minister noted that 22 October this year marks the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Latvia and Turkey, and expressed satisfaction at the constructive and diverse nature of bilateral relations. Latvia highly appreciates the fact that Turkey has never recognised the legitimacy of Latvia’s occupation, Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised.
During a conversation with the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, the Latvian Foreign Minister said that Latvia condemns the attempted coup and offered condolences to the victims and the Turkish people. The Minister also confirmed the need for respecting fundamental rights and freedoms and expressed hope that the situation will soon stabilise and the state of emergency will be lifted.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs also confirmed that the importance of Turkey as Latvia’s partner in business cooperation has increased in view of the growing trade volumes over the recent years, and Turkey is currently one of the biggest partners to Latvia in its economic cooperation beyond the EU. Edgars Rinkēvičs also highlighted Latvia’s interests in cooperating in the sector of pharmaceuticals, the food industry, timber processing, transport and logistics, and tourism.
At the meeting with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, the parties discussed the EU-Turkey agreement on migration, negotiations on the accession to the EU, and Turkey’s cooperation with the EU in the energy sector. The officials concurred that migration is posing a global challenge, and countries cannot tackle it on their own. We appreciate Turkey’s efforts of dealing with the migration crisis and the progress achieved with the agreement between the EU and Turkey, said Edgars Rinkēvičs and noted that the joint efforts must be continued. The Latvian Foreign Minister also pledged Latvia’s commitment to the relocation of asylum-seekers and the resolution of the migration crisis.
Edgars Rinkēvičs also voiced Latvia’s support for the further integration of Turkey with the EU and the opening of new negotiation chapters when the set criteria are fulfilled. The Minister also stressed the need for a continued active dialogue between the EU and Turkey. In the context of energy security, the Minister drew attention to the diversification of energy sources, suppliers and routes as being essential for a safe energy supply.
It is vital for the new projects to be implemented in line with the EU legislation and the goals of the Energy Union, Edgars Rinkēvičs said. In light of this, the Southern Gas Corridor project comes forth as a major infrastructure project devised to guarantee energy supplies to the EU and reduce dependency on individual gas suppliers, the Latvian Foreign Minister noted.
The Foreign Minister also underlined the need for the development of a new corridor for the “Zubr” container train between Latvia and Turkey.
The Minister also exchanged views on the conflict in Syria. Edgars Rinkēvičs asserted that the Syrian conflict can only have a political solution; therefore countries, all the region’s countries in particular, should exert their political influence to achieve a constructive engagement of the parties in the resolution of the conflict.
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