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At the meeting of President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Eiki Nestor and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu with the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, excellent bilateral relations, cooperation in NATO, Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union and solving of the Syrian crisis were discussed.

Nestor said at the meeting that it was in the interests of Estonia as a small country that all international agreements functioned and all parties adhered to them. “We follow closely what is going on in the world, including in Syria,” Nestor added. “We think that the best way of solving the problems is international cooperation.”

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson assured his Turkish colleagues that Estonia took its NATO membership very seriously and looked for opportunities to strengthen the Alliance together with the allies. “Estonia and Turkey are NATO border countries who can and have to exchange experience on how to confront regional and global security threats,” Mihkelson said. In his opinion, there are also many global challenges, like climate warming and energy security, that can be solved only in cooperation.

Speaking of the future of international trade, Mihkelson emphasised that the rules- based world order was the only way countries could communicate with each other. “It is in the interests of Estonia and Turkey to enliven trade, and this can be done only on the basis of agreed-upon rules, let it be in the framework of the European Union or the World Trade Organization,” Mihkelson admitted.

Mihkelson emphasised that Turkey was an important trade partner for the European Union, and Estonia supported the continuation of the good relations between the EU and Turkey because it was in the interests of both countries.

Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee understood that their Turkish colleagues were concerned that the aspirations of their country to join the EU had lasted for a very long time and this had a negative impact on public opinion. They also shared the opinion that the international community had to pay more attention to fighting against terrorism, and that the Syrian crisis, which had lasted for more than seven years and had caused extensive migration pressure, had to be resolved.

Mihkelson acknowledged the efforts of Turkey in assisting the Syrian refugees, and noted that the migration agreement concluded in 2016 had been positive and functioning. By today, Turkey has received 3.5 million refugees, mostly from Syria. The European Union has allocated three billion euro for assisting them, and will additionally pay the same amount to Turkey, of which 1.5 million euro will come from Estonia.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament Volkan Bozkır congratulated Estonia on the 100th anniversary of its independence, and Riigikogu on its coming 100th anniversary, and pointed out as an interesting fact that the Turkish Parliament started its work on the same date as the Riigikogu, on 23 April, in 1920.

Deputy Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Keit Pentus-Rosimannus and members of the Committee Oudekki Loone, Mart Nutt, Valdo Randpere, Andres Herkel and Henn Põlluaas participated in the meeting.

The delegation of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, who is in Estonia at the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, will also meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and Minister of Defence Jüri Luik. Chairman of the Estonia-Turkey Parliamentary Group Tiit Terik told the Turkish delegation about the work of the Riigikogu.

Photos of the meetings

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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