Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ /dc


The West should show humanity and extend a different kind of assistance to Turkey, which will never close its door to Syrian refugees, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said during a visit to Zagreb on Tuesday.

"Turkey never has nor will it ever close its door to people fleeing bombs," Erdogan told a joint press conference with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the start of his two-day visit.

The West should respond differently and offer Turkey "a different kind of assistance", he said without elaborating.

The government in Ankara has said earlier that the lifting of visa requirements for Turkish nationals is crucial for the success of the EU-Turkey agreement on stopping illegal immigration into Europe.

Grabar-Kitarovic expressed strong support to Turkey's getting closer to the EU, including liberalisation of the visa regime.

"There are a number of areas in which Croatia can help Turkey in its EU integration process, primarily by providing strong political support in Brussels for Turkey's EU integration, for lifting visa requirements, which I hope will happen soon," the Croatian president said. "I also hope that reciprocally visas will be lifted for Croatian citizens visiting Turkey," she added.

The two presidents supported the integration of Southeast European countries into the EU and NATO, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Grabar-Kitarovic said Turkey always played a constructive role.

They agreed on strengthening trilateral cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina that would help that country in its "political emancipation", in upgrading the Dayton peace agreement and in fully activating NATO's Membership Action Plan. Their cooperation would focus on problems relating to migrations and exchanges of information in combating terrorism and extremism.

"Turkey, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can create an effective trilateral mechanism at the highest level," Erdogan said.

Stronger Turkish investments in Croatia, Croatian beef exports to Turkey, joint energy projects, gas pipelines, ports and tourism were mentioned as areas for stronger economic cooperation between Turkey and Croatia, which Erdogan called "a friendly country and an ally". This will be discussed by a Turkish business delegation, including executives of 60 companies, and their Croatian colleagues at an economic forum at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

The Turkish president is also scheduled to attend a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the formal recognition of the Islamic faith in Croatia.



Read more: Turkish president begins two-day visit to Croatia


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