Latvia’s visiting deputy prime minister has praised relations with Turkey, saying they will explore the products Turkey has to offer in the defense sector.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Artis Pabriks, who also serves as Latvia’s defense minister, said his latest visit to Turkey is to “deepen our political, military, industrial, and of course human ties.”
He said his visit is meant to find out opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the defense industry, as well as meet his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and “my old friend” Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs.
Pabriks said they would like to get demos of the Turkish products, and discuss possible “common research and development.”
“I would say as the next step would be simply to find out more about the products the Turkish government and Turkish companies are offering … Baykar [Turkish drone] had a great success … especially in the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which shows the superb qualities of this technology,” he added.
He also expressed willingness for bilateral military presence. “… In Baltic countries, we have the Enhanced Forward Presence group of NATO nations assisting us and guarding our common border. So, Turkey is welcome to join us as well, if they would be willing to do.”
Pabriks said Turkey and Latvia enjoy good relations as “very good NATO allies.” “We are both border countries. We are realists. We understand the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.
On Turkey’s relations with the EU, of which Latvia is a member, the deputy premier said opinions vary “between nations, politicians and parties.”
“As a politician, I always supported Turkish requests to become a member of the EU,” Pabriks said. “If a country wants to join the EU, it should be allowed to compete freely … if the country complies to the standards, like we did in 2004, then it is welcome.”
The Latvian politician also commented on his country’s parliamentary decision to call the 1915 events as “genocide” and said: “I personally think that this was not the right decision. And I also told this to our parliamentarians and to my party.”
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to examine the issue.
Stressing that the Latvian parliament’s decision “has no legal value,” he said: “This is a political declaration and my personal position is that if we want to make political declarations about other places and other countries, we rather concentrate on today’s issues, and through which we can help the people today.”
He expressed the hope that the parliamentary decision will not affect relations and cooperation between Turkey and Latvia.
Pabriks also announced designating “a permanent military attaché in Ankara” as of this summer.
*Writing by Merve Aydogan
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