The Turkish foreign minister on Thursday highlighted the importance of integration of southeastern European countries, including the Balkans nations, with Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Speaking at the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) foreign ministers summit held in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Strengthening the EU membership perspectives of the SEECP members is our common goal.”
“The EU can become a global actor only when all Southeast European countries become members of the bloc,” Cavusoglu said.
“We call for the immediate start of accession negotiations with Tirana and Skopje,” he said, referring to the capitals of Albania and North Macedonia.
This year’s summit under the term presidency of Turkey also marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the South-East European Cooperation Process.
“23 years ago, when we assumed the term presidency of this process for the first time, we held a summit in Antalya,” Cavusoglu recalled.
“We discussed the Charter on Good-Neighborly Relations, which is the basic document of SEECP, for the first time at the Antalya Summit, he said, adding: “Since then, we have come a long way to realize our common goals.”
“Today, there is a Southeast Europe (group) that seeks solutions to problems through dialogue.”
Cavusoglu said that the SEECP, which is the most inclusive forum in the region, has become a platform that can bring the countries of the region together even in the most difficult times.
“[SEECP] allowed us to talk about our problems face to face without needing others,” he added.
The SEECP brings together Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Croatia, Moldova and Montenegro and “is a symbol of the common will of the countries of the region to improve cooperation among themselves and to bring lasting stability in South East Europe,” according to Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The next term president for the SEECP will be Greece.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived early Thursday in Antalya to attend the summit and the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on Friday following an official visit to Azerbaijan.
First Lady Emine Erdogan is also accompanying the president.
The SEECP Summit will discuss recent developments in the region.
“We will talk about the economy and development targets of the next 10 years for our region,” Cavusoglu told a news conference on Wednesday, adding a strategy document for 2030 will also be discussed.
The Antalya Diplomacy Forum will be held by the Turkish Foreign Ministry under the theme of "Innovative Diplomacy: New Era, New Approaches" from June 18-20.