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Davutoy-lu: Bulgaria is a door into Europe for Turkey.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoy-lu has thanked Bulgaria for its support for Turkey's European Union accession process, saying that while Turkey is a door for Bulgaria into Asia, Bulgaria is a door for Turkey into Europe.

Paying an official visit to Bulgaria on Thursday, Davutoy-lu met with his Bulgarian counterpart Kristian Vigenin, after which the two foreign ministers held a joint press conference.

Turkey and Bulgaria have been dealing with problems on their shared borders. Bulgaria canceled permits for Turkish trucks in early February following a dispute over the number of trucks allowed into Bulgaria after an agreement determining the number of permits issued by both countries expired last December. The dispute has resulted in long queues at the Turkish-Bulgarian border.

Speaking at the joint press conference, Davutoy-lu stressed that he is pleased with the common understanding between the transportation ministers of Turkey and Bulgaria on trucks crossing the border, saying that there is a positive atmosphere.

He added that the trade volume between Turkey and Bulgaria stands at $3 billion, but that this needs to be increased.

Davutoy-lu also said that Turkish-speaking people in Bulgaria are a bridge between the Turkish and Bulgarian cultures.

Mentioning a recent attack on a mosque in Plovdiv, Davutoy-lu said it is important to respect the countries' common heritage, adding that he is pleased with the Bulgarian authorities' response to the attack.

Bulgarian police detained 120 people during protests in Plovdiv on Feb. 16. The protest was in reaction to an appeal from Bulgaria's Muslim authorities for the return of an ancient mosque that had been taken over by the state years before in the city of Karlovo.

The protesters, mostly Bulgarian nationalists and football fans, attacked a mosque in Plovdiv, breaking windows and damaging the structure.

When asked why he had canceled a visit to Sofia that had been scheduled to take place on Feb. 6-7, Davutoy-lu said that it was not due to any problems between Turkey and Bulgaria but was due to planning issues. Davutoy-lu said he will also meet with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, to whom he will deliver a message of good intentions and neighborly relations.

Davutoy-lu will also meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and National Assembly Speaker Mihail Mikov during his two-day visit to Bulgaria, as well as Chief Mufti Hacy Mustafa AliE-.

The foreign minister's visit to Bulgaria was not announced by the Foreign Ministry until the day he traveled to Sofia, on Thursday.

He had originally been scheduled to visit Bulgaria on Feb. 6-7, but he postponed this visit a couple of days before it took place. Today's Zaman learned earlier this month from diplomatic sources that Davutoy-lu had also requested to meet with the Bulgarian president and, when told that he would not be granted a meeting with Plevneliev due to the president's tight schedule, Davutoy-lu canceled that visit.

"Foreign Minister Davutoy-lu's visit was postponed reciprocally. A new date will be decided upon," Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic told Today's Zaman on Feb. 4, two days before Davutoy-lu's planned visit.

The Foreign Ministry made a statement on Feb. 6 saying that Davutoy-lu had postponed his visit to Bulgaria so that he could attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:4EXBU
Date:Feb 27, 2014
Words:562
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