UPDATES WITH REMARKS FROM SERBIA'S PRESIDENT, TÜRKİYE'S PARLIAMENT SPEAKER
By Talha Ozturk
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Türkiye and the Western Balkans are partners in peace and stability, Serbia's president said on Thursday as the speaker of the Turkish parliament was paying an official visit to the country.
"Serbia sees in Türkiye an important partner in preserving peace and stability in the Western Balkans, but also in the realization of capital projects in the field of infrastructure and energy, which contribute greater security to all citizens, not only in Serbia, but in the region," President Aleksandar Vucic said after a meeting with Mustafa Sentop in the capital Belgrade.
Sentop had earlier met with his Serbian counterpart, Vladimir Orlic, who said their countries would continue to develop relations in every field.
"We see the results of these relations. We achieved great results in the fields of economy and infrastructure. I would like to thank Türkiye once again for supporting the formation of the 'Open Balkan' which is important for us," said Orlic, speaking at a joint press conference with Sentop.
The Open Balkan initiative covers an economic and political zone between Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia, aimed at boosting trade and student exchange opportunities for some 12 million people, as well as encouraging the three countries' integration into the EU.
Orlic said Türkiye was making several valuable investments in Serbia.
"Türkiye employs about 10,000 people in our country. However, the most important point here is that we are doing this in places where there is an unemployment problem in Serbia," he said.
The parliament chief added that one of the most important projects between the two nations was the Sarajevo-Belgrade Highway Project between the capital of his country and neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.
For his part, Sentop emphasized the importance of peace in the Balkans, saying: "We are of the opinion that the foundation of Europe's security and stability is trust, stability, and peace in the Balkans.
Türkiye and Serbia are the basis of peace, stability, and trust in the Balkans. For this reason, as the two parliaments, we will both improve our relations and do our best to contribute to the peace and stability of our region," said Sentop, who also met with local representatives of the Sanjak region, home to a large Muslim Bosniak community, as well as Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.