Turkey backs Montenegro’s EU membership

BELGRADE, Serbia

Turkey announced on Friday that it supports Montenegro’s membership in the EU and NATO.

Speaking after a meeting with his Montenegrin counterpart Mevludin Nuhodzic in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters that the country’s accession into NATO was an “important milestone” and “great success”.

Stressing the importance of membership in both NATO and the EU, Soylu said: “We stand by the latest steps they [Montenegro] have taken regarding EU membership.”

“We need friends who can evaluate regional issues both objectively and conscientiously within the European Union,” he said, following the meetings where the two officials discussed issues including irregular immigration in the fight against terrorism, organized crimes and illicit drugs.

Soylu also praised Montenegro for its stance against the the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

“This beautiful country has never given FETO the right to life from day one. We express our gratitude for this zero-tolerance,” said Soylu.

He added that during the meetings, he informed Montenegrin officials about Turkey’s latest anti-terror operation in northern Syria, Operation Peace Spring.

“I have once again expressed our commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria. We emphasized that the issue is the fight against terrorism against our borders and our country.

“I tried to express that we will not tolerate the corridor of terror to be established in southern Turkey,” said Soylu.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Relations between Montenegro-Turkey improving in every field

Nuhodzic stressed that relations between the two countries were constantly improving in all areas.

He said Turkey was a good example in the fight against organized crimes, illegal immigration and terrorism.

“Information sharing is very important in the fight against organized crimes. This cooperation is especially important in drug trafficking and prevention. We will make this cooperation even stronger. Our police cooperation will give a greater acceleration both in strategic and operational terms. Both Montenegro and Turkey are working on strengthening the subjects of their own borders,” said Nuhodzic.

Earlier Friday, Soylu was received by Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.

* Talha Ozturk from Belgrade contributed to this report

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