Prof. Dr. Mustafa Şentop, Speaker of the GNAT evaluated his visit to Skopje, the capital city of Northern Macedonia on the occasion of December 21 Turkish Education Day. 22.12.2020

Speaker Şentop answered the questions of Anadolu Agency (AA) and Turkish Radio Television (TRT) about his visit to Northern Macedonia.

Şentop evaluated the place and importance of the Balkans in Turkish foreign policy and Northern Macedonia-Turkey realtions in private and told that they visited the country to meet with their friends, comrades, relative communities and neighbors.

Şentop told that, within the context of the visit they were received by Stevo Pendarovski, President of Northern Macedonia and met with Speaker Talat Caferi and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev:

"We’ve had favorable meetings. Turkey is a country who supported the Republic of Northern Macedonia since its establishment, stood by her and supported her presence in international platforms. Turkey is one of the first countries who recognized the Republic of Northern Macedonia with her true identity and name. Later on, we have supported memberships of Northern Macedonia to European and Atlantic institutions. NATO membership process is like this. Again, Turkey supported her membership to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. In this respect, Northern Macedonia is a geography with whom we have cultural, historical and humane relations. Our relations are excellent. We are working to further develop these relations politically, economically and in terms of our interparliamentary relations."

Şentop told that in order to further develop these relations, they have discussed updating free trade agreements with their counterparts:

"There is an ongoing study about this. It is something to increase our economic relations and trade volume. Other than that, our Turkish businessmen’s companies have significant investments and activities here. Two Turkish firms are on the last step regarding the recent distribution process of natural gas. There are several important investments like this. We also promote them. We also wish Northern Macedonia to reach welfare, develop and provide employment for the people. As Turkey, we want our friends and brothers to develop and we want to support them, especially economically. I believe that our relations can further develop in each and every area. I have observed that all my colleagues including the Speaker, Prime Minister and also the President also wish to enhance relations between Northern Macedonia and Turkey."

When asked about whether the issue regarding the fight with FETÖ was mentioned during the meetings, Şentop emphasized that they know that FETÖ is active in several institutions in Balkan countries and in Northern Macedonia.

Şentop told that, after the coup attempt on July 15, they have all expressed it clearly in almost all of their meetings:

"Turkey was faced with a coup attempt on July 15. It was confirmed with court verdicts that FETÖ is behind this coup attempt. Turkey has completed its fight with this organization substantially, within its borders. This organization’s main target is Turkey, however, it poses a security threat to all the countries around the world in which it functions. We have told some countries that this organization is preparing for a coup attempt and they are currently active, hence, they have the potential to harm political powers and the functioning of governments. Therefore, we are not making a request for Turkey. We have made a friendly warning to Northern Macedonia. This organization must be scraped from everywhere it operates, we have pointed out the importance of ending FETÖ activities in Northern Macedonia and deporting them from the country."

Şentop emphasized that, as Turkey, they have been exhibiting a different foreign policy approach for a long time, under the guidance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and continued his words:

"It is a foreign policy perspective that puts humans and humanitarian aid first. In this regard, activities of TİKA is quite important. I see important work done everywhere, hence, these institutions have become Turkey’s trademarks. We have witnessed manifestations of those in Northern Macedonia. I am sure that they will continue."