Speech of Mr. Ali Babacan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, at the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Southeast Europe Countres Cooperation Process, Pomorie, 20 May 2008
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my distinct pleasure to be here at the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the South East European Cooperation Process, in this old and beautiful town “by the sea”, in Pomorie.

Firstly, I would like to extend my congratulations to İvailo, not only for his warm hospitality, but also for his whole-hearted efforts during the Bulgarian Chairmanship.

These efforts helped further consolidate regional ownership and cooperation in Southeastern Europe.

Dear Ministers,

Turkey attaches utmost importance to peace, stability and prosperity in the Balkans.

We believe that, in the newly-born Regional Cooperation Council, all these efforts will be successfully streamlined under the political guidance of the SEECP. We appreciate Secretary General Bişçeviç’s enthusiasm for this purpose.

However, the RCC deserves more than appreciation. We should provide our full and active support for it.

We also welcome the Strategic Work Programme of the RCC adopted by its Board for the period 2008-2009. It will provide the RCC with the strategic goals to be fulfilled and will be instrumental in focusing on the priority areas of cooperation in Southeastern Europe.

Dear Colleagues,

The European and Euro-Atlantic integration will be the key for our region. This integration process gives incentives to and serves as a guideline for reform efforts, geared towards building democratic societies and transparent institutions.

Therefore, we welcome the SAA that the EU signed with Montenegro in last October and the SAA that the EU has recently signed with Serbia. We are also pleased with the invitation of NATO to Croatia and Albania for membership.

We hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina will soon sign its SAA with the EU and that the Republic of Macedonia becomes a member of NATO. We also would like to congratulate Serbia for the successful elections which took place recently.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Bulgarian Chairmanship in Office worked hard to enhance the SEECP and organized, inter alia, very fruitful meetings at different levels, conferences and workshops. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Government of Bulgaria for its effective leadership and I am sure that Moldova will carry the banner as successfuly as Bulgaria did.

On this occasion, I would like to reiterate our proposal to take over the Chairmanship in Office for the term May 2009-May 2010. Taking this opportunity, we aim to contribute to the consolidation of lasting peace and stability in the Balkans, which is one of our main foreign policy goals.

In contrary to what Winston Churchill said about one century ago, we will help the Balkans produce history that they can both consume and enjoy.

Thank you for your kind attention.