UPDATES WITH REMARKS BY TURKISH, CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS; REVISES HEADLINE
By Talha Ozturk and Busra Nur Cakmak
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - It is in the interest of the European Union to develop effective cooperation with Turkey, said the Croatian foreign minister on Friday.
Gordan Grlic-Radman's remarks came in a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is currently visiting the capital Zagreb.
"Turkey is an EU candidate country and NATO ally. Therefore, It is in the interest of the European Union to develop effective cooperation with Turkey," said Radman, adding that Turkey is an important partner of the bloc in the refugee crisis, security, and fight against terrorism as well as economy and trade fields.
"Turkey is home to 4 million refugees. Therefore, the refugee agreement between Turkey and the EU plays an important role," said Radman.
Radman also said Croatia will give the necessary support to the development of relations between Turkey and the EU.
"The dialogue between Turkey and Croatia would contribute to the development and deepening of bilateral cooperation," he stressed.
In early Friday morning, Radman and Cavusoglu visited the Petrinje town of the central Sisak region where a powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed seven people and injured 27 others on Dec. 29, 2020.
Many buildings were damaged and 160,000 people were affected.
The ministers together handed the key of one of the container homes donated by Turkey to an elderly woman who was an earthquake victim.
Croatia and Turkey support peace, stability, and functionality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radman also noted.
- Turkey, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina tripartite mechanism
For his part, Cavusoglu said the two ministers discussed many regional issues including the Western Balkans, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Croatia plays a very important role in Bosnia Herzegovina. And that's why our tripartite mechanisms should be escalated to the leadership level,” Cavusoglu said.
On Turkey-EU relations, Cavusoglu said Croatia has always supported Turkey’s EU bid.
“And they've always supported a positive agenda when it comes to Turkey's accession into the EU, and for that, we would like to thank them,” he added.
Cavusoglu also invited Radman and the country's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to the Southeast European countries summit as well as the Antalya Diplomacy Forum which will be held in June.
- Bilateral relations
Cavusoglu said they have discussed bilateral ties in great detail and the great opportunities awaiting the two countries.
“Despite the pandemic, our trade volumes have not suffered, and on the contrary, there is an uptick. And we are hoping to reach our goal of $1 billion, sooner than later,” said Cavusoglu.
“Some of the largest Turkish companies are operating in Croatia. There are two reasons for that. One, Croatia offers substantial opportunities, and two, the Croatian government trusts our companies and supports them,” he added.
Cavusoglu also said Turkey will continue to support Croatia after last year’s powerful quake which rocked Petrinje, killing seven people and injured 27 others.
“And of course, we have suffered a lot because of catastrophes, natural disasters, and we stand ready and committed to sharing all our positive experiences with our friends here in Croatia,” said Cavusoglu.
“Turkish companies offer good quality and they deliver ahead of time, and they are quite capable in terms of building good housing units. So, I would, of course, it is up to them to decide, but I would recommend working with Turkish companies to them,” he said.
“But also the Croatian government is quite decided on dressing the wounds in the region. Mr. prime minister and his aides are constantly in the region, extending a helping hand to those affected by the earthquake,” he added.