Prof. Dr. Mustafa Şentop, Speaker of the GNAT met with journalists in Skopje, the capital city of Northern Macedonia. 22.12.2020

Speaker Şentop drew attention to the importance December 21 Turkish Education Day and told that he attended these celebrations as an academician long before he got into politics.

Şentop explained that due to the pandemic, most international meetings were organized via videoconference, "We’ve had many meetings as such however, it is not right to cease all international contacts and visits."

Şentop emphasized that Turkey is the first country to recognize Northern Macedonia with her own name and identity and Turkey supported her in international platforms for many years:

"It still continues to give support. We supported Northern Macedonia for her accession to NATO. She became a member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Turkey also supported her during the process. Because, we consider this geography as the place of common historical, cultural and humane values with our friend and brother countries. Despite the pandemic, economic relations between Northern Macedonia-Turkey are good. Our goal is to achieve a trade volume above 1 billion dollars. We hope to achieve this soon after the pandemic. Many of our businessmen have investments here. We have discussed ways of enhancing cooperation in various fields including education, health and defence industry."

Şentop underlined the fact that FETÖ is one of the important issues in Northern Macedonia as it is in many of the Balkan countries and reminded that it was proved with relevant court verdicts that this organization made the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Şentop explained that in the court files in Turkey, there are many recordings, documents, tape recordings and correspondence documents proving that the coup attempt was made by FETÖ and told that Turkey completed its fight with this organization within itself through legal procedures.

Şentop stated that they know about FETÖ’s activities in different countries, "They are currently functioning in Balkan countries and in Northern Macedonia. We want criminal organization members to be extradited and not to be sheltered in our friend and brother countries. This organization functions as some countries’ subcontractor and poses a national securtiy threat to the countries it operates in."

Şentop said that there has been restraints in interparliamentary relations due to the pandemic, however, 2020 has been a busy year and he talked about the activities of the Parliamentary Assembly of Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP PA).

Şentop indicated that this Assembly aims to enhance relations and contacts between Balkan countries and told that parliamentary diplomacy has a constructive function as it constitutes a consultation ground in such a period where the world is searching for great changes.

Şentop underlined the fact that IBU is among the most important manifestations of relations between Turkey and Northern Macedonia in terms of education and told that the university strengthened its academic structure in the recent years whereas its academic publications are recognized throughout Eureope and around the world.

Şentop reminded that there has been negotiations and statements on the Free Trade Zone and stated the following:

"Yesterday, Prime Minister Zaev told me that concrete steps will be taken soon about this matter. Gevgilija has a significant location, not just because it is my homeland. It has easy access to people coming to Europe from Turkey whereas it is located near the border. There’s a highway and railway. It’s relatively closer to Turkey. That’s why I think the Free Trade Zone here will be quite attractive for many investors in Turkey. I believe that Turkish businessmen’s investments in Northern Macedonia will increase soon."

Şentop told that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited Zaev to Turkey and hoped that Erdoğan could visit Northern Macedonia and Zaev could come to Turkey after the pandemic.

Şentop expressed that there are many common economic activities between Turkey and Northern Macedonia, that Turkey based investments are above 1,2 billion dollars and an employment area of 5000 in total was created.

Şentop told that during the pandemic, countries around the world had setbacks in their commercial and economic relations, "But, there is no serious decline in the relations between Northern Macedonia and Turkey. This shows that our relations have genuine roots, it strengthens our hopes about the future."