President Abdullah Gül, after receiving Prime Minister Sali Berisha of Albania, separately met with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Tomislav Nicolic of Serbia and President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia as part of the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in Istanbul.
REGIONAL COOPERATION IN THE BALKANS
Evincing his pleasure to welcome PM Berisha of Albania to Turkey on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in Istanbul, President Gül, asking him to convey his best wishes to President Bujar Nishani of Albania, underscored the importance of consolidating the infrastructural leg of the bilateral relations between Turkey and Albania and pointed to the strong tourism sector of Turkey, which he said Albania can take advantage of.
Albanian PM Berisha, referring to the huge projects Turkish firms are conducting in his country, which he said pleases them very much, reiterated the significance of the regional cooperation in the Balkans of which Albania is a part, adding that this region as a transportation corridor serves as a bridge to connect Europe to Asia.
TRANS-ANATOLIAN NATURAL GAS PIPELINE PROJECT
President Gül, meeting with President Aliyev of Azerbaijan, averred his happiness with the fact that the Inter-governmental Agreement and the Host Country Agreement will be signed between the parties regarding the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), which will carry the Azeri gas to the European markets via Turkey. He also pointed to the importance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars transportation project, congratulating President Aliyev on his newly-born grandson.
Sharing his happiness with the successful conclusion of the TANAP, President Aliyev declared that a brighter future awaits Turkish-Azeri relations.
TURKISH-SERBIAN QUINTESSENTIAL COOPERATION
President Gül afterwards had a tete-a-tete with his Serbian counterpart, President Tomislav Nikolic to whom he wishes success during his term. Expressing his pleasure with the fact that he along with his Serbian counterpart co-chair the 20th Anniversary Summit of BSEC, President Gül predicted that the quintessential solidarity Turkey and Serbia enjoy will have positive ramifications in the whole of the Balkans and referred to the importance of the trilateral summits between Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He further stressed the importance of both the conclusion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project in the near future and the process of the Ahiska Turks in their efforts to return to their homeland about which President Saakashvili said he will work with the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA).
Proclaiming that they want to carry the current bilateral relations between Turkey and Serbia into the future, President Nikolic said Turkey could become one of the most important trade partners of the latter, pointing to the huge projects Turkish firms are carrying out in his country. The Serbian President further reiterated his wish to establish a relationship with President Gül as was it during his predecessor, former President Tadic and proclaimed the Turkish legacy in the Balkans to belong to all peoples as he said both Turkey and Serbia shared the same fate in history, referring to the common cultural heritage between the two countries. He also evinced his expectations from Turkey as to the creation of new investments in the future.
The two Presidents further invited each other to their countries for a state visit.
SAAKASHVILI: TURKEY IS LEADER IN THE REGION
During his bilateral talk with President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, President Gül promised that Turkey will continue to lend her corroboration for Georgia in its bid to integrate with the European-Atlantic organizations in the future as well.
Promulgating Turkey to be a leader country in the region, President Saakashvili extended his thanks to President Gül for Turkey’s support for his country and said the economic success Turkey has achieved in recent years affirmatively affected Georgia as well, informing President Gül that each year 2 million Turkish citizens visit Georgia for business, investment and tourism.
FAMILY PHOTO TAKEN
President Gül later welcomed the guest heads of state and governments. They had a family photo taken afterwards.