Ratas: Turkey staying on European course is important to Estonia

  • 2017-08-17
  • LETA/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Turkey is Estonia's important strategic partner and Estonia as well as the rest of the European Union want Turkey to stay on course, Prime Minister Juri Ratas said on Wednesday during meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The meeting with Yildirim focused on the relationship between Estonia and Turkey. "The relationship between Estonia and Turkey is very good and friendly. Our ties could definitely be closer, especially in the economy. I'm glad that there is a good air traffic between Estonia and Turkey, and Turkey's investments in Estonia are growing, but there is still room for improvement in different areas," Ratas said.

The main topic discussed during meetings with Yildirim and Erdogan was migration, especially fulfilling the refugee agreement that the EU and Turkey entered into last year and which stopped the migration flow to Europe through Turkey. Ratas recognized Turkey's leaders for their cooperation with Europe and the efforts to create a temporary living environment for refugees. The EU supports Turkey with three billion euros for helping refugees.

The discussion also concerned the relationship between the EU and Turkey as a whole. Ratas told Erdogan that Estonia continues to support the EU expansion. "The door to the EU has to remain open to those who share European values, respect the rule of law, basic rights and meet all the criteria for joining," Ratas said. "Turkey is an important strategic partner not just to Estonia, but to the whole European Union, and the Brussels also wants to continue with talks with Turkey, irrespective of the differences in opinion. At the same time we expect Turkey to mend relationships with European Union member states," he added.

Ratas also discussed defense cooperation with Erdogan. "We are allies in NATO and we assess security threats in Europe's neighborhood as well as the whole world similarly. In the fight against terrorism we must pay even more attention to the counteractivity on social media. We should exchange information even more and be able to react to threats faster," Ratas said.