A new initiative fostering cooperation between Turkish lawmakers and members of the European Parliament was launched on Wednesday.

The EU-Turkey Friendship Group will work as an informal alliance between parliamentarians from Turkey and the EU with the aim to improve the relationship and to pursue common political goals.

Faruk Kaymakci, deputy foreign minister of Turkey, welcomed the new platform at a launch event held via videoconference.

“Turkey’s relations with the EU are based on accession perspective,” he stressed.

Ismail Emrah Karayel, co-chair of Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), agreed that the cooperation would contribute to “recreate trust between partners” and “build a common future with better dialogue and awareness”.

No alternative to JPC

He said the new initiative was not an alternative to the Joint Parliamentary Committee.

“I would like to underline that the Turkey-EU JPC is the main official platform to further improve our parliamentary relations and contribute to the overall progress of Turkey’s accession negotiations,” he said.

Karayel said he hoped to combat Islamophobia and xenophobia with his European counterparts.

‘Promoting common values’

“We acknowledge Turkey as bridge between the East and West,” said Ryszard Czarnecki, EU lawmaker from Poland.

Czarnecki, who played a crucial role in starting the EU-Turkey Friendship Group, promised to work on “promoting our common values” and engage in cultural activities and soft diplomacy.

Turkey is one of our most important neighbors,” said Traian Basescu, member of the European Parliament and former president of Romania.

The members will be in close contact with each other to coordinate on the important political developments of EU-Turkey relations.

They also plan on organizing cultural, intellectual and political debates, including on migration, environment and trade.

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