UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM ERDOGAN
By Diyar Guldogan and Talha Ozturk
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's "sole desire" is peace and stability in the Balkans, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
Maintaining that Balkan region has suffered in the last quarter of century and has paid serious costs, Erdogan urged the need to build future together, not by seeing differences as an element of conflict, but by wealth.
''We should build our future together by seeing our differences not as an element of conflict but our wealth, and develop our cooperation in every field. I hope that we will add new ones to these projects, which are our common pride in the coming period," he said, at the inauguration of various projects and also groundbreaking ceremony of the Sarajevo-Belgrade Highway in Serbia’s Sremska Mitrovica.
Erdogan said Turkey will continue to increase investments across Serbia, adding that the countries need to develop relations in all areas.
"Every part of these territories is a monument of our solidarity and cooperation," he added.
Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that it is a historic event for everyone in the region.
"For us, this is a historic event. Since 1945, all roads, railroads, connections, and communications with Bosnia have generally been bad, as if some people living there were being punished intentionally," said Vucic.
He further said that an opportunity has come to take care of future, regulate relations and put aside doubts, fears and hatred.
''Today is an opportunity to show that we are taking care of our future, we can regulate relations between us. That is why one of the most important moments in the region begins today. The space that was once a space of doubts, fears, hatred, today we are starting to open and connect,'' he added.
Emphasizing urgency of connectivity, Vucic said that nothing in the Balkans is as necessary as roads.
"It is a way to move on to the future. They introduce us to one another, give us the opportunity to understand, and in the end, to forgive without a backlash ...," said Vucic.
Erdogan, remotely cut the ribbon of three different projects carried out by TIKA, Turkey’s state aid agency. They included, the Ram Fortress, an Ottoman castle restored by TIKA, the Valide Sultan Mosque in Sjenica, and a court building in Novi Pazar.
During the opening ceremony, a film about Turkish investments and projects realized in Serbia was shown, which also included a video link showing inauguration of six factories.