World Bulletin / News Desk
EU memberships for Balkan countries can play a role in uniting them around common goals despite their historical and cultural differences, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said Tuesday.
Babacan made the remarks in the Albanian capital Tirana where Albania handed over its presidency of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) to Bulgaria.
"The EU membership process of Balkan countries is very important for Turkey. We believe that the EU (memberships) could play a role in bringing these countries together around common goals and ideals despite any historical issues or cultural differences they may have," he told reporters.
About the South-East European Cooperation Process, he said that it served a significant role in developing cooperation and dialogue between Balkan countries, adding that it "creates an opportunity to further improve political relations in particular, and unite countries around common areas of interest, values and ideals despite differences."
The Turkish deputy premier also highlighted the importance of facilitating trade among Balkan countries as increased free circulation of goods, people and capital would have positive consequences.
"If we can establish a common ground and a strong economic cooperation, and countries become more dependent on each other economically, this would be very helpful both for security and stability," he added.
Babacan was joined by Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti and Romanian Prime Minister Victor-Viorel Ponta at the SEECP event.
Albanian President Bujar Nishani said that the country during its SEECP presidency fought organized crime, championed regional peace and made efforts for EU membership for non-EU countries.
The SEECP was established in 1996 in Bulgaria to establish peace and stability in the Balkans.
Turkey has been a SEECP member since its founding and held the presidency in 1998-1999 and 2009-2010.