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Ankara, 3 April 2013
Remarks by HRVP Catherine Ashton following her meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu
"Minister Davutoğlu, can I first of all thank you so much for your hospitality. It is the first time that you and I have actually met in your capital and later I will have the privilege of meeting with Prime Minister Erdoğan which I'm much looking forward to.
You and I meet all over the world and whenever we do we have a great deal to discuss - today is no exception. And like you I apologise to the press that we kept you waiting. It's because the quality of our discussions is extremely high and the amount of information we wish to share is very large. This, for me as the representative for foreign policy of the European Union, is a demonstration of the vital importance of Turkey and of our work across the world and especially across the region.
You have rightly described our discussions on bilateral issues. These are of enormous importance and I am both the conveyor and carrier of messages to and from my colleagues in the European Commission and of course of the different Councils who take specific interest in the issues of the day. As you know, I'm committed to seeing Turkey progress in its relationship with the European Union.
We also talked about our neighbourhood a great deal - our neighbourhood in terms of the South and of course the East. I was able to the debrief you on the dialogue for normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo that ended last night very late and I now wait to see with what Pristina and Belgrade will come back to me having had a little time, which they do need, to be able to consider the proposals before them. I'm very grateful for the support that you have always shown for the work that we do, not just in the dialogue but in all of our work in the Western Balkans.
Inevitably our focus was on what’s happening in Syria, our concern for the refugees who are coming into countries, not least into Turkey, and I want to pay tribute to the efforts that Turkey has made to look after people in real distress, people whose lives have been shattered changed forever and who look to you for support and help. I reaffirm the commitment of the European Union to work with you to try and offer as much support as we possibly can.
We talked too about the challenges we face for the future and the challenges we face in the present - how best to find the political solution that we all know we have to find in the end and how best to support the people of Syria into that future. It is absolutely right to recognise the role Turkey has played, and the important and vital role that you’ve played in the region.
And as you said, Minister Davutoğlu, we also talked more broadly about my discussions with Iran which will take place in the next couple of days in Kazakhstan. I look forward to what I hope will be a successful meeting in Almaty and I really do hope that Iran will now carefully consider the proposal we put on the table and respond to it.
From Kazakhstan I will go on to Eygpt, where I will be continuing with the messages that you and I have also discussed about the need to ensure that there is a better and growing economy in Eygpt, but also that there are political challenges that need to be addressed.