Iohannis-Erdogan talks in Ankara: Mosque in Bucharest – in building permit stage

President Klaus Iohannis met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, after a sumptuous ceremony at the Ak Saray Presidential Palace in Ankara. The talks focused on the terrorist attacks in Belgium, on bilateral relations, on the issue of refugees and regional cooperation in the field of security and regional stability.

According to the two heads of state discussed also the sensitive issue of the mosque in Bucharest and a plot of land to build a Romanian church in Istanbul. The Turkish President said: “During my visit in Bucharest (April 2015) we discussed the issue with Mr. President Iohannis. Currently, our colleagues work to obtain the necessary permits. We have also a concluded project, but we now want to develop it. Turkey is giving all support to the project. We have decided upon several plots of land in Istanbul for a chapel and accommodation for pilgrims. This is what we have decided together with President Iohannis.”

In his turn, the Romania President confirmed: “I can confirm that we have reached the stage of requesting the construction permits.”

President Klaus Iohannis is on a three-day state visit to Turkey since Tuesday.

At the start of his official visit to Ankara, President Klaus Iohannis gave an exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency, hailing last week’s EU-Turkey agreement under which refugees reaching Greece from Turkey will be sent back. He praised Turkey’s humanitarian treatment of Syrian refugees and called on the international community to take “collective responsibility” for the crisis.

“We are aware that Turkey cannot and should not bear alone the burden of accommodating the refugees in need for international protection. Offering humanitarian help to those fleeing their home countries because of conflicts is a global, collective responsibility,” Iohannis explained in the interview.

Referring to bilateral relations, the Romanian head of state said: “Our cooperation is very dynamic. We share a series of projects in several fields. Looking at the data of our economic cooperation and the level of investments of Turkish companies in Romania, the results are impressive,” he said.

The Romania president said that economic cooperation will be one of the top subjects during his visit to Turkey, Romania’s number one non-EU trade partner.

“We share a strategic partnership, we are neighbouring countries on the Black Sea, friends and allies, sharing a robust bilateral cooperation. We also have close political and economic ties and strong people-to-people bonds.”

Iohannis said that Romania and Turkey both aim to secure the Black Sea region and support regional stability.

“Romania and Turkey share together the objective of enhancing their contribution to ensure the security and stability of this region. Therefore, our security dialogue is intense in search of solutions to achieve this objective,” he said.

He cautioned that the region faces some security threats.

The Romanian leader, however, added that they will try to explore opportunities for strengthening maritime security cooperation in the Black Sea at the NATO summit in Warsaw this July.

According to Anadolu Agency, he also compared Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea with Syria and added: “To the East, we witnessed the illegal annexation of Crimea and a constant military build-up aimed at projecting power in the region, and beyond, as it happened in Syria.”

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