It is when the situation turns for the worse and not for the better that dialogue is vital
Ankara, Turkey, 15. 12. 2016 | press release, statement
At the invitation of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is on an official visit to the Republic of Turkey. This is the first official visit to Turkey by a head of state of an EU Member State after the coup attempt on 15 July.
The purpose of the visit is to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between Slovenia and Turkey, and particularly Turkey and the European Union and NATO, in order to continue the dialogue and constructive solving of problems after the European Parliament issued a resolution to temporarily freeze Turkey’s accession negotiations. Both discussion partners agreed that it was important for both sides to maintain a constructive flow of dialogue. In the complicated domestic and external conditions, Turkey and the European Union need each other and must mutually encourage each other in resolving their problems. According to the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, Turkey is assuming a significant burden of the refugee tide, which recently severely burdened the Western Balkan route and also Slovenia, and it is in the interest of Slovenia that the dialogue between the European Union and Turkey continues and that negotiations are not suspended, which could lead to a repeated mass refugee tide on the same route.
The President of the Republic of Slovenia was welcomed by his host, the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi Presidential Palace. The presidents first held a private meeting, which was followed by plenary discussions between the delegations of both countries. They assessed that bilateral relations between the countries were excellent because Slovenia and Turkey had been strategic partners since March 2011. Good cooperation between the countries was particularly visible in the business sector. The presidents also spoke about further steps of Turkey and the standstill regarding its approximation with the European Union and the cooperation between Turkey and Slovenia. They exchanged views on resolving the conflict in Syria and spoke about the conditions in other crisis areas and the broader international environment. The discussion partners agreed that good cooperation between the countries also takes place in tourism, transport, science, finance, culture, including towns and cities. President Pahor said that Slovenia wished to further enhance cooperation with Turkey and expressed support for its European perspective. He highlighted the great role of Turkey in the efforts to stabilise conditions in the Middle East.
At the press conference after the talks, President Pahor again emphasised his personal opinion and Slovenia’s official view for the need to continue and deepen constructive dialogue between the EU and Turkey. “I think we now need each other. This dialogue is not necessary because the relations between the EU and Turkey have improved since 15 July, but because they are deteriorating,” said the Slovenian President. “However, neither I nor Slovenia, and I also believe the majority of the EU, wants relations to strain to the point where the European perspective of Turkey would be suspended for a longer period of time or even abandoned due to the destroyed trust between Brussels and Ankara,” he added.
The Slovenian President said that both sides should ‘perhaps take small but decisive steps’ to resolve the accumulated problems. He stressed the need for a ‘renaissance of trust’ which would enable the continuation of Turkey’s accession negotiations. The President also added that he somehow understood Turkey’s resentment towards Europe for its lukewarm response to the coup attempt and that it was difficult for Turkey to accept the opinion of the European countries that it likely acted disproportionately when sanctioning the alleged offenders. “In my opinion, we must openly discuss these opinions regarding each other’s conduct and find suitable solutions for deepening cooperation,” said Pahor.
“It is of the utmost importance that all measures are adopted within the rule of law, and that those in the EU who doubt the further measures of Turkey when taking action against the alleged offenders restore their trust in the future of Turkish democracy and its orientation as a European partner,” added the Slovenian President.
In the light of the discussions at the EU summit in Brussels on future relations with Turkey, Pahor assessed, “that in these weeks and months, we have found ourselves in a position where we are taking strategic decisions on whether we will trust each other and move forward for our mutual benefit, or we will not trust each other and go backwards to our mutual detriment.” “I am here because I know that we must move forward for the common good,” asserted President Pahor. The President concluded that he had faith in Turkey and its European perspective, and he said to President Erdoğan that he himself “wants to believe that President Erdoğan will remain the pillar of a secular Turkey, a democratic Turkey, which will continue its European perspective.”
President Pahor began his official visit by meeting the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Binali Yıldırım, with whom he spoke about the economic cooperation between the countries and the possibilities for increasing investment cooperation. The Slovenian President said that Turkish partners were invited to participate in the process of Slovenian privatisation and other investment projects in Slovenia, including energy, construction, medicinal equipment, environmental technologies and equipment, information technology, telecommunications and other industries. The trade in goods between Slovenia and Turkey increased by 16.5 per cent in 2015 in comparison to 2014 and amounted to EUR 596 million. The increase was mainly the result of increased Slovenian exports, i.e. live cattle (by 28 per cent), amounting to EUR 259.5 million. Imports from Turkey also increased, i.e. by 9 per cent due to the import of all types of fresh and frozen fish; it totalled EUR 336.5 million. In the first half of 2016, the trade in goods dropped by 2.5 per cent. While imports from Turkey increased by 6 per cent, exports dropped by 14 per cent. The scope of service exchange reached EUR 73.47 million in 2015, which was a 28.2 per cent increase in comparison to 2014. The value of exports of Slovenian services to Turkey was EUR 29.8 million in 2015, and the value of imports of services was EUR 43.6 million.
As part of the official visit, President Pahor lay a wreath on the grave of the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The Slovenian President will meet the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Ismail Kahraman, tomorrow as he continues his official visit to Turkey.