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The President of the Republic met with the President of the Republic of Turkey

State Visit to the Republic of Turkey 6.-8.09.2005. The official reception ceremony.President Arnold Rüütel and Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel on Tuesday started a state visit to the Republic of Turkey. Following the arrival in Ankara, the head of Estonian state laid a wreath at Atatürk's Memorial Tomb.

The President of Turkey, Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Mrs Sezer greeted the Estonian presidential couple at the official reception ceremony held in front of the Presidential Palace in Ankara. Following the ceremony, the presidents had a tźte-ą-tźte meeting and a meeting with delegations. At the meeting, the development of Estonian-Turkish bilateral relations, which both heads of state recognized as being very good in general, were discussed. The presidents acknowledged that bilateral trade relations had ample space to develop further, and both sides would have to take advantage of the existing potential. It was noted that mutual contacts in the field of tourism, culture and education, as well as in several other fields had become more intensive in recent years.

President Sezer briefed on Turkish position concerning the beginning of accession negotiations with the European Union scheduled to start on October 3, and noted that Turkey had fulfilled its obligations. Talking about the Cyprus issue, President Sezer, among other things, said that it should not become an obstacle to becoming an EU member, as all parties concerned were interested in finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

President Rüütel said that Estonia was continuously supporting the commencement of the EU accession negotiations with Turkey. Talking about the experience of Estonia, the President of the Republic said that the EU accession process required from the parliament, government and also from the society, serious work with thousands of legal acts in order to harmonize the national legislation with the legal space of the European Union. President Rüütel added that Estonia was ready to share its reform experience and wished Turkey success in the negotiations. The head of Estonian state expressed hope that with the support of international community and with good will it would be possible to find a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem.

Following the meeting of delegations, Minister of Regional Affairs Jaan Õunapuu and Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gül signed the Cooperation Programme between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Turkey in the fields of Culture, Education, Science, Youth and Sports.

After that, the presidents of Turkey and Estonia made a statement to the press. The President of Turkey said that there were no problematic issues between Turkey and Estonia. "Our countries contribute to the European stability and welfare based on their similar geographical locations and the common universal values they share," President Sezer said. He thanked President Rüütel for the open and strong support to Turkey's EU membership. President Sezer expressed his hope that the visit of the head of Estonian state would yield mutually beneficial outcome to the Estonian-Turkish relations in all fields.

The head of Estonian state in his statement to the press addressed the Estonian-Turkish bilateral relations as well as cooperation within the NATO framework. "Estonia has always applied importance to successful cooperation with Turkey on international level, where our two countries share many common viewpoints," President Rüütel said. The President of the Republic also expressed gratitude to Turkey for its participation in patrolling the Estonian and other Baltic states airspace by NATO aircrafts, scheduled for 2006.

Several members of the Estonian delegation had separate meetings with their Turkish counterparts. Chief of the Estonian Defense Forces Vice Admiral Tarmo Kõuts met with General Hilmi Özkök, Chief of the Turkish General Staff, and visited the anti-terrorism center. Minister of Regional Affairs Jaan Õunapuu and Acting Governor of Saare County Hans Teiv met with the Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs Abdülkadir Aksu. Vice Governor of Eesti Pank Andres Sutt met with Erdem Bažēi, Vice Governor of the Central Bank of Turkey.

Mrs Ingrid Rüütel, within the framework of her special programme, met with Mrs Semran Sezer and visited an art and crafts institute, where she acquainted herself with Turkish national costumes. After that, Mrs. Rüütel had a meeting with Muammer Sun, a professor of folk music history.

President Rüütel visited Atakule Observation Tower and enjoyed a beautiful view of the Turkish capital from the height of 125 meters. After that, the President of the Republic opened the new building of the Estonian Embassy in Ankara. In his greeting address, made on that occasion, the head of Estonian state stressed that the embassy had the primary role in mediating contacts and information between the two countries.

The opening ceremony of the Estonian Embassy was also attended by Turkish Foreign Minister Abddullah Gül, who said in his address that the opening of the embassy building reflected the firm wishes of Estonia to strengthen its relations with Turkey. The Minister added that the President of Estonia could be sure that the Estonian Ambassador, who would work in the new rooms of the embassy, would have the support of Turkish government in his activities for the benefit of Turkey and Estonia.

The President of the Republic also met with Vice Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Sadõk Yakut. During the meeting, the head of Estonian state thanked Turkey for not recognizing the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states, and the support for Estonia's NATO membership. Vice Speaker Yakut noted that in order to promote further long-term good relations between Estonia and Turkey, a visit of the Speaker of Turkish Grand National Assembly to Estonia would soon take place, also, a visit of the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee to the Republic of Turkey has been planned.

The first day of the visit ended with a festive dinner in the Presidential Palace, hosted by Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Mrs. Semra Sezer in honour of the President of the Republic and Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel. The dinner was attended also by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his speech made at the dinner, the President of Turkey emphasized the dignity of the people of the two countries who had been fighting for the idea of independence, and their shared values today. "The fact that our two countries in 1924 signed the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Cooperation, and that Turkey was among the first states to restore diplomatic relations with Estonia following the reestablishment of Estonia's independence in 1991, indicates that our friendship is really strong," President Sezer said. He added that in contemporary world, in order to protect todays and universal values, international solidarity was more important than ever. "Turkey, with full conviction, will make its contribution to securing international peace, stability and wellbeing following the principles of democracy, respect of human rights, rule of law, and free market economy. In this context, our country sincerely wishes to develop bilateral relations and cooperation with Estonia in every possible field," the head of Turkish state said.

The head of Estonian state spoke about long-standing cooperation between Estonia and Turkey, which goes back to the times of the legendary President Atatürk, and which embraces very different fields. "Estonia and Turkey are at opposite corners of Europe. Our cultures and languages are different. Although our historical experiences are different, we still found possibilities for mutual understanding and a will for cooperation," President Rüütel said.

The state visit of President Rüütel will continue tomorrow in Istanbul, where he will visit Dolmabahce Palace and later will meet with Governor of Istanbul Muammer Güler. The President of the Republic will return back from his state visit to Turkey late Thursday night.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, September 6, 2005

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