Davutoglu: "Turkey's regional role is supplementary, not a substitute, to its EU goal"
Turkey's European Union accession goal and regional affairs are "complementary to each other, not substitutes," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday, hailing Belgium's current EU presidency as a harbinger of a brand new strategic perspective for Turkey's cooperation with the 27-nation bloc. "Turkey considers regional affairs and its EU strategic goal complementary, not as substitutes for one another," Davutoglu told a joint news conference with his Belgian counterpart Steven Vanackere, who is paying a three-day visit to Turkey. "We hope Turkish-EU cooperation, with the contributions of Belgium, will gain a brand new strategic perspective and greatly contribute to peace in the regional and international arenas." Davutoglu and Vanackere spoke in Ankara before telling reporters about problems surrounding Turkey's EU membership negotiations, stressing Turkey and Belgium's determination for closer cooperation in Turkish-EU strategic dialogue. Saying that they had discussed regional and international affairs, including the Iranian nuclear issue, developments in the Middle East, and the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, Davutoglu added that they also spoke about cooperation in the fight against terrorism, stating that the two countries would hold a series of meetings on the issue. He said Turkish-Belgian trade relations are improving and that Turkey believes Belgium's EU presidency is an "important opportunity" in Turkish-EU relations. Praising Turkey's foreign policy regarding its neighbors and its role in handling significant challenges in the region, Vanackere condemned terrorism and reiterated Belgium's solidarity with Turkey in its fight against terrorism. On EU enlargement, he said Belgium would work "to bring Turkey and the EU closer."