Speech of Mr. Ali Babacan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, at the Meetings of Foreign Ministers and Heads of State\Government of the Southeast Europe Countres Cooperation Process, Pomorie, 21 May 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and pleasure for me to represent Turkey at the 11th Meeting of the SEECP Heads of State and Government.

I am also delighted to be in Pomorie, in this attractive coastal town in which the beauty of the Balkans reaches the Black Sea.

I would like to extend my congratulations to our host H.E. Sergey Stanişev, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, for his warm hospitality and excellent organisation.

Due to his heavy agenda Prime Minister Erdoğan has not been able to attend this meeting. I wish to convey his best wishes to all of you. He closely follows the developments in the region and hopes to hear about the positive outcomes that this gathering will yield.

Dear Colleagues,

16 heads of state, including our President and two foreign ministers participated in the 15th Summit of Central European countries which was held in Ohrid this month.
They stressed the importance of regional cooperation in that meeting. This is very meaningful at this period of history, when the region is under a large transformation and facing many challenges at the same time.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our nations have more to share than just borders. Our cultural affinities, human and historical ties, are our assets to build a better common future. Our peoples deserve lasting stability, prosperity and security.

In a diminishing world and rapidly globalizing international community, these goals are almost impossible to be reached by individual states alone. In addition to this evidence, the tragic events of the 1990s and the new challenges of the post-Yugoslav era call for more regional ownership and comprehensive regional cooperation. To meet all these needs, we embarked upon a crucial and indigenous initiative, namely the SEECP at the end of 1990s.

The establishment of the Regional Cooperation Council presents a watershed in the history of SEECP: It will provide operational capabilities to the SEECP. Under the political umbrella of the SEECP, the RCC will streamline various regional initiative efforts in the region.

The Strategic Work Programme of the RCC adopted by its Board for the term 2008-2009 is a clear and comprehensive road map to meet new challenges of the region. Our nations will, in no doubt, witness soon the positive and concrete outcomes of the activities of the RCC.

I take this opportunity to assure you that Turkey will do its best to contribute to the full implementation of this programme.
Dear Colleagues,

Our policy towards the Balkans is based on the vision that all the countries of the region will eventually be united under the umbrellas of the EU and NATO. This integration process will be very instrumental in consolidating the stable and cooperative environment in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would also like to touch upon some developments in the region. Firstly, while pursuing a certain policy towards Kosovo, we should not ignore the realities in the field.

Secondly, Bosnia and Herzegovina has spent significant efforts to make reforms on its police forces. We are confident that the Stability and Association Agreement will contribute to the stability of this country and the region. In addition, we are pleased with the SAA signed by Montenegro and recently by Serbia.

Thirdly, although we welcomed the invitation of NATO extended to Croatia and Albania for membership, we regret that the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of Macedonia lags behind them. We sincerely hope that the Republic of Macedonia will join NATO shortly.

Dear Colleagues,

We are at the end of the successful Bulgarian Chairmanship-in-Office. Our hosts did a great job and increased our hope for a better future in our region. I send best wishes to Moldova which will take the lead in the period ahead.

Turkey is determined to build upon what Bulgaria did and Moldova will do, if it takes over the Chairmanship-in-Office for the term May 2009-May 2010.

Dear Colleagues,

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to emphasize that one of our foreign policy goals is to help secure long-lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region. To achieve this goal, European and Euro-Atlantic convergence of the countries of the region will enhance the regional ownership and cooperation.

With this understanding and conviction, Turkey is determined to do its best during its Chairmanship for the benefit of the region.

Thank you for your kind attention.