Lajcak: Dialogue with Turkey Beats Exchanging Messages via Media

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Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (TASR archive)

Bratislava/Ankara, August 26 (TASR) – Turkey is a strategic partner for the EU, playing an extraordinarily important role in tackling the migration problem, and in general it’s better to hold a dialogue with the country than send messages via the media, said Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak in Ankara on Thursday, as relayed to TASR by ministry spokesman Peter Stano on Friday.

Apart from bilateral relations, Lajcak in Ankara discussed recent developments in Turkey, regional stability, security, migration, visa liberalisation and Turkey’s EU prospects. All these issues were discussed in the context of Slovakia’s ongoing Presidency of the Council of the EU, noted Stano.

“Turkey is a very important partner for the EU. There are many issues that need to be discussed. Understandably, we all recall the dramatic events of July 15 involving a coup attempt, which the EU condemned, supporting the legitimate Government and president [Recep Tayyip Erdogan]. Despite this, subsequent days saw a deterioration in the bilateral atmosphere and trust between the EU and Turkey,” said Lajcak.

The Slovak minister in Ankara met Turkish Parliamentary Speaker (of the Grand National Assembly) Ismail Kahraman, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and European Union Affairs Minister and Chief Negotiator for Turkish Accession to the European Union Omer Celik.

The discussions mainly concerned what should be done in order to restore trust. “We spoke about what has actually happened, where the cause of the misunderstanding is, and chiefly what needs to be done in order to see mutual trust increase – to be able to move forward in [EU] accession talks and issues such as visa liberalisation, the readmission agreement and, of course, the migration agreement,” said Lajcak.

He pointed out that an informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers next week in Bratislava, which is also due to be attended by a Turkish representative, will provide a good opportunity for exchanges of views.

“We’ll have a special focus on Turkey, and I want to state that this visit has also confirmed how important it is to meet, communicate, speak directly about issues on which our views diverge, ask questions and obtain answers. This is far more beneficial than sending messages via the media,” said Lajcak, describing his visit to Ankara as very valuable.

Lajcak laid flowers in tribute to the victims of the July 15 events in the Grand National Assembly entrance hall, which was damaged by bombs during the military coup attempt.
All Turkish officials repeatedly praised Slovakia’s attitude towards the putsch attempt, thanking the country for its solidarity and support. They especially pointed to the fact that Lajcak was the very first European representative to contact Turkish Government officials (Cavusoglu and Celik) by telephone during the critical night of July 15, assuring them of Slovakia’s and the EU’s support, added Stano.