Belgian FM in Turkey to review bilateral ties, EU talks
Belgian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Steven Vanackere today begins a three-day visit to Turkey at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu to review Turkey's European Union membership bid and bilateral ties. Belgium is playing a leading role in Turkey's EU membership talks through the end of the year, as it currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency. Vanackere is set to discuss bilateral issues between Turkey and Belgium, along with cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the Cyprus problem, and other recent regional and international affairs, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. As part of a three-year investigation into terrorist PKK activities, Belgian authorities mounted a large-scale raid and detained dozens of PKK members this July. The raid also included the headquarters of pro-PKK television broadcaster Roj-TV. Turkey and Belgium have worked together over the past year to block financial transactions carried out by the PKK in Europe, despite earlier complaints by Turkey that Belgium had not been cooperative. The top Belgian diplomat is also expected to have meetings with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit. In addition, Vanackere is expected to meet with Turkey's chief EU negotiator, Egemen Bagis, to discuss Turkey's EU membership path.