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Turkey urges EU for concrete steps on visa liberalization April 16, 2011

Posted by Yilan in EU, Macedonia, Turkey.
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Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davut-oğlu has reiterated Turkey’s firm demand for the European Union to start work on visa liberalization for Turkish nationals, urging Hungary, which holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, to play a leading role in this issue.

Davutoğlu’s remarks came late on Monday night during an official visit to Budapest at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart, Janos Martonyi. Speaking to reporters after visiting the Gül Baba tomb in the city, Davutoğlu described his talks with Hungarian leaders and his visit as “very productive,” and thanked Hungary for its support for Turkey’s EU membership process.

Three fundamental issues were on the agenda of his talks with Martonyi, said Davutoğlu who also held talks with President Pal Schmitt, Parliament Speaker Laszlo Kover and the head of the Hungarian-Turkish Interparliamentary Friendship Group, Tamas Hegedus, earlier on Monday.

The first issue was bilateral relations between Hungary and Turkey, Davutoğlu said, adding that he and Martonyi took joint decisions. Accordingly, from now on the two countries will work together for cultural heritage protection, he said. Establishing a joint commission for protection of the Gül Baba tomb, intensifying high-level visits and political consultations and deciding upon an “exchange of young diplomats” are among decisions made by the two ministers.

The second issue was Turkey and EU relations, Davutoğlu explained, while the third was international and regional developments particularly regarding the Middle East, Balkans and North Africa.

“Turkey expects the EU to take concrete steps on visa liberalization. We want Hungary to play a leading role in council work on visa liberalization because Turkey is convinced that visa liberalization talks should start at once,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. He was apparently referring to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council.

In late February, EU ministers approved a deal with Turkey on the readmission of illegal immigrants but refrained from authorizing the EU Commission to begin talks with Ankara on visa liberalization for Turkish nationals, calling instead for an ambiguous “visa dialogue.”

“We want to make progress with the EU on the visa issue. We have exerted joint efforts with Hungary for the opening of the eighth chapter that covers the visa issue during Hungary’s term presidency,” Davutoğlu said earlier on Monday at a joint press conference following talks with Martonyi.

Bilateral meeting with Macedonian president

In Budapest, Davutoğlu also met with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, who was also on a visit to the same city, on Tuesday. After wrapping up his official contacts with Hungarian officials, Davutoğlu met with Ivanov at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Davutoğlu said he initiated the meeting after learning that Ivanov was also in the city. Ivanov informed him of the latest developments regarding the name crisis between Macedonia and Greece, the minister noted.

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