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The President of the Republic Address to the Press after the Meeting of the Estonian and Turkish Delegations, on the Occasion of the State Visit of the President of the Republic of Estonia to Turkey September 6, 2005, Ankara

Honourable Mister President,
Respectable Members of the Press,

The current state visit confirms once again that Estonian-Turkish bilateral relations are very good. We are pleased that our contacts are becoming ever so intensive and we can really say that the communication between our two countries is regular and contacted on a high level. In the context of today's rapidly changing world this is very important.

Turkey's non-recognition of Soviet occupation of the Baltic states created good preconditions for successful development of our relations. I would like to use once again the opportunity to express our appreciation to Turkey for that.

Within the framework of present state visit we will open a new building of the Estonian Embassy in Ankara. I hope that this will facilitate the continuing intensification and diversification of relations between our countries.

The first NATO Summit where Estonia participated as a full member of the alliance was held in Istanbul, Turkey. The support of Turkey to Estonia's accession to NATO was important for us, and our people will not forget it. Today, both Estonia as well as Turkey are interested that NATO would function as an efficient alliance in guaranteeing direct security for its members, as well as securing peace and security in the entire world.

Estonia considers it important to develop its military capability in accordance with today's challenges and to contribute to NATO's joint endeavours, first of all, to peace operations. Our soldiers participate in NATO-led, as well as other operations in various places in the world. At the same time, the Estonian airspace is being patrolled by aircrafts of other NATO member states who possess better capacity for that. We are grateful to Turkey for their planned participation in that activity.

Estonia supports the commencement of negotiations on Turkey's accession to the European Union on October 3. Turkey has fulfilled the criteria necessary to start accession negotiations. The negotiations have not been easy for any of accession countries, neither were they for Estonia. Estonia is continuously ready to share its reform and accession experience with Turkey.

For us the pre-accession years were full of reforms and other homework, the progress of which was regularly discussed with the European Union. It is my sincere hope that in connection with negotiations with Turkey, a comprehensive solution will be found also to the issue regarding Cyprus.

Estonia has always applied importance to successful cooperation with Turkey on international level, where our two countries share many common viewpoints

The existing contractual base creates good conditions for Estonian-Turkish economic relations and the trade volumes have shown constant increase in recent years. According to our statistics, the trade between our two countries showed about 60% increase during the first half of this year. Estonia is interested in enhancing our trade relations. I am convinced that both sides have ample potential for that. On its behalf, the business delegation accompanying me during this visit will work for the sake of establishing new business contacts.

Many Estonian tourists visit Turkey to get acquainted with Turkish cultural heritage but Turkey is also a popular holiday resort. Last year about 10 000 Estonian tourists visited Turkey. It is also very positive that many people from Turkey have discovered the charm of the Baltic Sea countries and cities. Among other places they also come to Estonia. Thanks to the beautiful Old Town of Tallinn and other attractions we have a lot to show to our guests, and the number of tourists visiting Estonia is continuously growing.

Both in Tartu University and in Tallinn University the Turkish language has been taught since 1993. Thanks to the assistance of the Turkish Embassy, the number of people interested in the Turkish language has grown year by year, and we hope that such cooperation and mutual interest will increase even more.

I am convinced that the Cooperation Programme Between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of The Republic Of Estonia in the Fields of Culture, Education, Science, Youth And Sports that will be signed during the present visit will give a further impetus to the relations and cooperation between the two counties.

In conclusion allow me to use the opportunity and express our gratitude to our Turkish hosts for the hospitality extended to us and to thank You personally, Mister President.

Thank you!

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