Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in response to H.E. Nikola Poposki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia and H.E. Ambassador Gerard Stoudmann, Special Representative of the CiO for Western Balkans, 1059th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 11.06.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I would like to warmly welcome Minister Poposki to the Permanent Council, and thank him for his comprehensive presentation. We are also happy to be together once again with Ambassador Stoudmann and thank him also for sharing his insightful views with us.

Turkey and Macedonia entertain exemplary relations based on common historical and cultural roots and shared values. The frequent reciprocal high-level bilateral contacts are a clear indication of our common political will to further enhance our relations in all areas. The Turkish community, which is the third largest in Macedonia, is a special element reinforcing our bilateral ties.

Turkey considers Macedonia as a “micro cosmos of the Balkans”. We believe that Macedonia is a special model for peaceful and harmonious co-existence with its multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural social fabric. As such, it offers us a perspective that should be cherished, nurtured and supported.

We are nonetheless concerned about certain recent developments in the country. The tragic death of police officers in Kumanovo left us all in dismay. We once again express our heartfelt condolences and deep sympathy, through you Mr. Minister, to the friendly people of Macedonia and the victims’ bereaved families. We would like to reiterate our firm position that Turkey is opposed to and strongly condemns all kinds of acts of violence and terrorism without distinction or exception.

We have, therefore, been calling on all stakeholders to overcome existing political tensions through peaceful democratic means in line with the rule of law, dialogue and mutual respect. This will help further consolidate the peace and inter-ethnic balance achieved with the 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement, which we see as a cornerstone for stability and prosperity in Macedonia. International community should support Macedonia in overcoming this crisis. Nevertheless, the process, no doubt, requires the ownership of the relevant stakeholders.

We believe that the EU-brokered agreement reached among the four political party leaders on June 2 to hold early general elections in April 2016 will ease tensions and set a scene more favorable for further dialogue and cooperation in resolving the outstanding issues. In this connection, we support the reform efforts that which we hope would be accelerated.

We also appreciate the constructive role played by the OSCE Mission to reduce tensions in Macedonia, including the efforts to facilitate dialogue. In this vein, I should also put on record our pleasure with the timely visit of Ambassador Stoudmann together with the Head of the CiO Taskforce Ambassador Sahovic and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Ms. Thors on May 14.

We concur with Ambassador Stoudmann’s observations as to how OSCE can provide support to the efforts of Macedonia in the period ahead of us with various assets that are at its disposal.

Speaking of visits, I also wish to refer to the informal visit that we made to Macedonia on 17 April as a small group of OSCE Ambassadors. This was an exercise to listen to our interlocutors in Skopje with a view to having a better understanding of the situation. The visit was transparent from the beginning to the end, including a debriefing session we held on 22 April, following our return. I wish to express my gratitude in this hall also to you, Mr. Minister, for having graciously received us on the occasion of our visit.

You made a reference Mr. Minister, to your Euro-Atlantic vocation.

I will make use of this occasion to emphasize that Macedonia deserves a fairer treatment in its integration with the EU and NATO, and particularly in light of the decision the International Court of Justice took in 2011. Clearing the longstanding impediments from the way for Macedonia’s European and Euro-Atlantic path and vision is crucial not only for ethnic harmony in the country, but also for the overall peace and stability in the Balkans.

Turkey will maintain its strong support to the territorial integrity, political unity and to the Euro-Atlantic orientation of the Republic of Macedonia.

I wish to conclude by wishing Minister Poposki and Ambassador Stoudmann well-deserved success in all their future endeavors.

Thank you.