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The delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) started a visit to Turkey. The visit will last until Thursday, and its aim is to strengthen bilateral relations and to learn about the situation of the refugees on the Turkish-Syrian border areas.

“Estonia has traditionally had good relations with Turkey, and with this visit, we want to strengthen them even more,” Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson said. “Turkey is an important ally for us in NATO, and since 2015, a full member of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.”

In Mihkelson’s opinion, dialogue with Turkey should be deepened especially now. “Turkey has decisive role in ensuring the security and stability of the region, in resolving the refugee crisis and in fight against terrorism,” Mihkelson said. He also added that some developments regarding human rights and freedom of expression in the country cause concern.

In Ankara, the delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee will have meetings with their colleagues in the Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. At the meetings in Istanbul, bilateral economic relations, which have become closer during the last decade, will be discussed.

The delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee will also go to the city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, where they will be given an overview of the work of the International Organisation for Migration on the Turkish-Syrian border areas.

They will also visit the aid project Small Projects Istanbul, which is supported by Estonia and where hundreds of Syrian war refugee children are taught languages and women can earn livelihood with hand crafts, and the family reunification centre, which is financed by the German Consulate General, and speak about the relocation of refugees.

Besides Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson, members of the Committee Liisa Oviir, Andres Herkel and Henn Põlluaas participate in the visit.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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