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Joint Press Conference by Foreign Minister H.E. Feridun Sinirlioğlu with Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Minister of Immigration and Asylum of Luxembourg H.E. Jean Asselborn, 4 September 2015, Luxembourg

MINISTER OF FOREIGN AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS AND MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM OF LUXEMBOURG H.E. JEAN ASSELBORN: Minister Sinirlioğlu, it is the first time, we had a very productive exchange of views regarding the state of the bilateral relations between Luxembourg and Turkey. Firstly, I would like to underline the importance of the participation of the Turkish Foreign Minister at our informal meeting of Foreign Ministers as this innovative tradition for Foreign Ministers from candidate countries.

It is particularly timely because tomorrow’s meeting deals with the very serious subject of the current refugee crisis. I would again like to stress Turkey’s remarkable commitment regarding the assistance to refugees. Turkey’s welcoming close to 2 million refugees from Syria on its territory. On the bilateral level, it was very useful to be able to speak openly and also the spirit of cooperation in order to clarify our positions. In the context of the commemorations of the tragic events of 1915, Luxembourg’s Parliament adopted on the 6th of May this year a resolution on this 1915 events. The Parliament’s prerogatives include its right to express its political position at any time and also on any subject. Let me assure you that during the debate it was there. In the Parliament of the 6th of May, all political parties confirmed the importance they attach to good relations with Turkey as a friend and partner in Europe and also as a member in NATO. They paid their respect to the Turkish people and the Turkish leadership and encouraged Turkey and Armenia to proceed a dialogue towards reconciliation.

I would also like to record that the term “genocide” has a specific legal definition under international law. Such a crime should be prosecuted by a competent court. The terrible suffering of the Armenian people living in the Ottoman Empire shall not be forgotten. Turkey and Armenia must be encouraged to continue their efforts towards the mobilization of their relations and towards reconciliation. It would in this context be important for Turkey and Armenia to ratify the agreements they signed in Zurich in October 2009 and the work of historians of both nations should continue. President Erdoğan’s and Prime Minister Davutoğlu’s condolences to the grandchildren of the Armenians were important signals on the path of reconciliation.

Turkey and Luxembourg are friendly countries, allies within the NATO framework and partners in international organizations. Our bilateral cooperation extends throughout many fields and we attach major importance to our political, economic and cultural ties. This is why in 2011 we opened an Embassy in Ankara. I would also like to remind you that Luxembourg has supported the accession negotiations with the European Union since the beginning. I became Minister in 2004 and already in December 2004, the European Council decided with 25 countries (and this moment European Union hosts with 25) and 3rd of October 2005, I’ll never forget it, Abdullah Gül became President, Foreign Minister he was, after we gave positive signals from Luxembourg, he took the plane and he came to Luxembourg to reassess the launch of the negotiations. For our bilateral relations, to further develop the Luxembourg government would very much like to see the Ambassador of Turkey resume his duties in Luxembourg as soon as possible. I thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER H.E. FERİDUN SİNİRLİOĞLU: Thank you Minister Asselborn. Thank you Jean. It was good to be here. Thank you for your hospitality and for your invitation to this important meeting.

As Minister Asselborn emphasized, we had a very good and constructive meeting. Turkey and Luxembourg are two allies, two friends, two partners. We are looking forward to continue to work closely with each other. There are a number of challenges ahead. Luxembourg, as the term President of the EU, has important responsibilities at the moment. There is a big challenge of migration, illegal migration, which is also a big challenge for Turkey. Turkey and EU should work together to overcome this difficult challenge together. We have good bilateral relations with Luxembourg, which could be improved further. I would like to thank my friend for the clarification he made now about the decision of the Parliament. Every parliament of course can take a political position. But when it is subject with some legal consequences, then we have to be careful as there is a division of labor between different branches of government.

Anyway, I look forward to having him soon in Turkey and thank him again for his hospitality and for the invitation he extended to me to come to this important meeting. Thank you.

QUESTION: My question is for you, Minister. Actually everyone in the Europe agrees that Syrian refugee crisis, severe problem is not just for Europe, but everyone in the region, including Turkey especially. However we haven’t seen any political solution yet. Even we haven’t seen any dates for a summit. Why EU leaders have not decided to meet for an emergency meeting to discuss this issue?

MINISTER OF FOREIGN AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS AND MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM OF LUXEMBOURG H.E. JEAN ASSELBORN: In Europe, and one day you will be member of the European Union I’m convinced, you will see that not everything is decided by summits but it is a continuous work and there is no meeting of Foreign Ministers, but we do not speak about Middle East, about Iraq, about Iran and also about Syria, about DAESH and all the problems this region is confronted. So I will be very frank with you. I don’t think that the European Union has the means to stop immediately the war in Syria. We can help in the framework of the international community. We, as Luxembourg, we have done a security council for humanitarian aspect but I’m not convinced that with weapons from European Union that this could be a mean to stop this tragedy in Syria.

We saw the pictures yesterday, at a certain moment, we didn’t see the pictures because also in European Union the focus was on Greece, now the focus is on migration but migration is linked and you are right, Syria with whole instability, this region. There is some hope, some hope. I think that the Russians and the Americans, they started pre-informal talks about Syria. You know that Steffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy, is working again about possibility of relaunching something like the Geneva Process. I, as citizen, and also as Foreign Minister, I can only imagine I think the tragedy that all the people, a lot of people, a lot of – millions of people in Syria have to suffer and I really would like that the international community, maybe now Iran in the new situation and also on the other side Saudi Arabia, country like yours could come together and visit the Americans, visit the Russians, visit European Union to find solution for the people in short term. So, it is a very complex problem. If you see the brutality of DAESH using children 5-6 years, they have to kill other people, so it is awful, it is really disaster, humanitarian disaster and I must say also, by experience in the two years that I have been in the security council, (inaudible)… here this is really, very very big problem that for such crisis, the UN and the Security Council can be very strong. These were not able to even answer, even response (inaudible)... Since 2011, this continues and continues.

Last point, I don’t hope that if the regime of Assad is collapsing that this regime is replaced by a worse regime. A regime in the hands of the group we call DAESH. So it is important for us in the European Union with Turkey and as I said, with strong power in the world trying to find the solution, in European Union we speak about this, we try to bring our input, but I don’t know if on the Arab side or the international community there is now one decision that has been taken to stop it.

FOREIGN MINISTER H.E. FERİDUN SİNİRLİOĞLU: I’ll say a few words also on this topic. First and foremost, the responsibility of the Assad regime has created this mess, which is causing so much suffer and pain to the people of Syria. He is responsible for the creation of DAESH and other terror organizations in the country. People are desperate now. They are really hopeless. They cannot see any sign at the end of the tunnel and they are risking their lives every day just to stay alive and to prepare a better future for their families. It is a tragedy and we are all responsible to find a solution to this challenge, to this problem in front of us. Syria is a Mediterranean country and Mediterranean is the sea that connects Europe to the South and to the East. This is not a faraway country. Whatever happens there affects us, affects all our European partners. So this is our homeland I would say, because we are all Mediterranean in the end, including the Europeans.

Thank you.