ANKARA

The Turkish foreign minister on Thursday met with his Finnish counterpart and discussed bilateral and regional issues as well as EU-Turkey relations.

Speaking at a joint news conference after their bilateral meeting, Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu and Finland’s Pekka Haavisto underlined the importance of EU-Turkey relations to counter common challenges.

“We discussed Turkey’s relations with the EU and the regional issues, including Cyprus, the situation in Sub Saharan Africa, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh region, Ukraine, the Black Sea, and also the migration issue. This is a real challenge,” said Cavusoglu.

“We want to restore the Helsinki spirit in our relations with the European Union, therefore, your role is crucial to that end,” he added, referring to the 1999 Helsinki European Council meeting where Turkey was officially recognized as an EU candidate country.

“I think we had a very difficult time last year on the Eastern Mediterranean issue. There were lots of tensions between Turkey and some EU member states and between the European Union. But I think this year there has been a clear improvement in the relationship,” said Haavisto, for his part, adding there had been many high-level EU visits to Turkey in the recent months.

Haavisto said there are many common issues facing Turkey and the EU. Therefore, close cooperation is a must on issues such as situation in Syria, Syrian refugees in Turkey, and a possible refugee wave from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign tropps from the country.

“As Turkey and European Union, we should have much better cooperation. And this is a common challenge that we need to face together, and, ideally, we should resolve the problems at source countries,” Cavusoglu said.

Bilateral economic relations

On the economic relations, Cavusoglu said Turkey and Finland managed to maintain the bilateral trade volume despite the COVID-19 pandemic, adding “but there is a potential to further increase our trade.”

“We plan to organize the first Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO) meeting before the end of this year,” he said.

“The pandemic has forced shifts in global supply chain. And this makes Turkey a reliable supplier of many products to Europe,” he added.

On tourism, Cavusoglu called on Finland to lift the 14-day quarantine requirement for Finnish tourists coming back from Turkey, like many other European countries did.​​​​​​​

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