Türkiye has never pursued a policy of dividing people in Balkans

by Cristian Florescu

Türkiye pursues a balanced approach toward all Balkan countries regardless of their religion or ethnic origin, says North Macedonia’s president

Türkiye has never pursued a policy of dividing people in the Balkans, North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski said.

“Türkiye has never adopted an approach in the Balkans, especially in the Western Balkans, to divide the people of the region,” Pendarovski told Anadolu Agency, marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Türkiye and North Macedonia.

Pendarovski said that Türkiye had a “very constructive” role in the Balkans in the past, and pointed out that Ankara has pursued a balanced approach toward all Balkan countries regardless of their religion or ethnic origin.

“For example, Türkiye, a predominantly Muslim state and society, has a significant number of visits, investments and excellent cooperation with Serbia as far as I can see. In other words, we cannot say that Türkiye is only aimed at Bosnia and Herzegovina, as some people think. It is equal to literally all Western Balkan countries,” he added.

Pendarovski said that the relations between the two countries are at an “extremely high level”.

“We have always received maximum support from Türkiye in our cooperation in both political, economic and international institutions, and it was mutual,” he added.

Hailing Türkiye’s support to North Macedonia in the international arena, Pendarovski said Skopje has a lot to learn from Türkiye as to how a state is structured.

Turning to the economic relations between the countries, Pendarovski said the bilateral trade volume was €780 million ($780 million) in 2021, adding it will be raised to €1 billion in the upcoming period.

Speaking about foreign investments in his country, Pendarovski said that there are approximately 1,350 foreign companies in North Macedonia, most of which are owned by Turkish investors.

About Türkiye’s mediation role between Russia and Ukraine, Pendarovski said: “I don’t believe there is any other country in the world right now that can maintain equal relations with both Ukraine and Russia for the common good.”

He added thanks to the Istanbul grain deal, a major famine was prevented in parts of the world, including Africa.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal last month to resume grain exports from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Yuzhny, Chornomorsk and Odesa, which were halted due to the Russia-Ukraine war, now in its seventh month.

The president said that the deal is proof of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s personal engagement and Turkish diplomacy, adding: “Very few believed that such a thing would be possible … I know or can imagine how difficult it is to negotiate with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

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