Foreign Affairs Committee of Riigikogu visited Turkey
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A delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Estonia Riigikogu visited Turkey on 30 January – 02 February 2017. The aim of the visit was to strengthen bilateral relations and learn about the situation of the refugees on the Turkish-Syrian border.
“Estonia has traditionally had good relations with Turkey, and with this visit, we want to strengthen them even more,” Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson said. “Turkey is an important ally for us in NATO, and since 2015, a full member of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.”
In Mihkelson’s opinion, dialogue with Turkey should be deepened especially now. “Turkey has decisive role in ensuring the security and stability of the region, in resolving the refugee crisis and in fight against terrorism,” Mihkelson said. He also added that some developments regarding human rights and freedom of expression in the country cause concern.
In Ankara, the delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee had meetings with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Mr. Taha Özhan, with the the Chairman of the Turkish-Estonian Friendship Group Mr. Kasım Bostan, with the Chairman of the EU Harmonization Committee Mr. Mehmet Kasım Gülpınar, and with the Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Mehmet Kemal Bozay.
During the meetings in Istanbul, bilateral economic relations, which have become closer during the last decade, were discussed. The delegation also visited the aid project Small Projects Istanbul which is supported by Estonia and where Syrian war refugee children are taught languages and women can earn livelihood with hand crafts.
The delegation also went to the city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, where they were given an overview of the work of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Turkish-Syrian border areas and relocation of refugees. In Gaziantep, the delegation also visited the Family Reunification Center financed by the German Embassy, as well as the refugee camp Nizip-2.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson was accompanied during the visit by the members of the Committee Liisa Oviir, Andres Herkel, Henn Põlluaas and the Ambassador of Estonia to Turkey Marin Mõttus.