Joint Press Statement of Turkey-Belgium Foreign Affairs, Justice and Interior (Asylum & Migration) Ministers Meeting, 9 March 2016, Ankara

The meeting of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Interior (and Asylum &Migration) Ministers of Turkey and Belgium was held on 9 March 2016 in Ankara.

The Turkish delegation was composed of Mr. Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, Minister of Justice and Mr. Efkan Ala, Minister of Interior.The Belgian delegation consisted of Mr. Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Mr. Jan Jambon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Koen Geens, Minister of Justice, and Mr. Theo Francken, Secretary of State for Asylum Policy and Migration.

This trilateral meeting is the third one at the ministerial level, after a first meeting held in Istanbul in October 2008, and the second one convened in Brussels in 2013.

The aim of this platform is to maintain a dialogue between the political authorities of both countries on issues of common interest, primarily on the fight against terrorism, police and judicial cooperation, as well as on consular matters and migration management.

1. At this third meeting held on 9 March 2016, the Ministers expressed their utter condemnation of terrorist acts perpetrated recently in Ankara and Istanbul, as well as other acts of terror claiming lives around the world. They confirmed determination of their respective governments to fight this scourge and to further develop cooperation in countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The Ministers welcomed the new momentum in Turkey’s EU accession process which should be taken further as well as the increased dialogue between the two sides, while also reiterating the need to increase cooperation in all aspects of Turkey-EU relations, including migration.

The Ministers regarded the migration and refugee crisis in the region as a growing challenge that deepens in parallel to the continuation of the conflict in Syria, and that can only be overcome through genuine burden-sharing and cooperation. The Belgian side commended the outstanding efforts of Turkey so far to accommodate the more than 2.7 million Syrians currently in Turkey.

The Ministers discussed and commended the valuable contribution of the Turkish people living in Belgium to the development of the bilateral relations and to the economic well-being of both States.

2. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs expressed their pleasure on the steady development of bilateral relations in all areas in line with shared views and common interests. They also exchanged views on developments in the region and the relations between Turkey and the European Union.

3. The Ministers of Justice discussed ways to improve judicial cooperation structures and took up issues pertaining to mutual legal assistance and extradition requests on terrorism-related cases.

4. The Ministers of Interior agreed to deepen police cooperation aimed at countering terrorism and discussed, together with the Belgian Secretary of State, the issue of migration.