Sanchez, Erdogan seal new links despite differences on various issues

Ankara, Nov 17 (EFE).- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday in Ankara sealed a new “comprehensive association” between their two coutnries despite acknowledging that “legitimate” differences remain in their points of view on various questions.

The two leaders presided at the 7th High Level Meeting, which was also attended by six Spanish government ministers and their Turkish counterparts and at which they signed five agreements on renewable energy, water, sports, science and cooperation in addressing natural disasters.

Erdogan said at a joint press conference at the conclusion of the summit that the two nations decided to define their relationship as a “comprehensive association.”

This association will allow Madrid and Ankara to continue cooperating in numerous areas such as defense, where the Turkish president said that there are many joint projects in the works and others that could begin soon, including building a new aircraft carrier and a submarine.

Sanchez, meanwhile, said that he and Erdogan had spoken sincerely about matters on which they are in agreement as well as others where they have “legitimately distant points of view.”

He did not specify any of these issues, but reporters asked the Turkish leader if Sanchez had asked whether Turkey would return to the Istanbul Convention on the prevention of – and fight against – machismo violence, a central question for the Spanish government.

Erdogan answered that Turkey’s rejoining the pact was not discussed because he believes that the international agreement is “unnecessary.”

“We’ve completely removed the Istanbul Convention from our agenda … Our government is very, very responsive with regard to violence against women. We’ve taken measures with our security forces, with the Justice Ministry, and we will take more measures,” the Turkish leader said.

He went on to insist that “We have eliminated the Istanbul Convention because the measures that would have been taken with it we’ve already incorporated into our regular laws; the measures against violence are certainly on our agenda,” adding that “Women are most sacred for us within the concept of the family and we will not permit this to sullied.”

Sanchez took advantage of his remarks to reiterate the full support for Turkey’s future in the European Union.

“Turkey is not just a neighbor, but also a partner, an indispensable ally for the European Union, and thus Spain supports the European view of Turkey and we encourage our Turkish friends to persevere in the effort to progressively move closer,” he emphasized.

He said that the next step needs to be the positive agenda proposed by the European Council and “we’re going to work together so that agenda can move forward.”

Erdogan thanked Spain for its support for Turkey’s relations with the EU and said that Europe needs to take “concrete steps” on that road as well as update the customs union and the exemption on visas for Turkish citizens.

He also defended common policies for “fair distribution” of the immigration “burden.”

The two leaders emphasized the resurgence in bilateral trade after the coronavirus pandemic and the Turkish president said that the aim is to get that trade up to $20 billion per year.

Along the same lines, he said he was satisfied by the presence of more than 600 Spanish firms in his country, although he encouraged the Spanish business sector to continue investing in a “trustworthy partner” like Turkey.

The significance of the roles of Spain and Turkey in NATO was another issue discussed in Ankara, taking into account that Spain will host the Atlantic Alliance summit next year.

The bilateral summit ended with an official dinner attended by the members of both delegations and the two leaders, as well as their wives and representatives of civil society.

EFE BB-iut/pddp/bp

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