World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey considers Macedonia a "very important" country for the stability and security of the region, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sunday.
Speaking during a joint news conference with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov in capital Skopje, Cavusoglu said that Macedonia was not just important for the Balkans, but for the larger region.
"Macedonia is an exemplary country in Europe and beyond in terms of the harmonious coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups," Cavusoglu said.
The Turkish minister added Macedonia was a country most deserving of NATO membership.
"Turkey will continue to support Macedonia's NATO accession process and will also encourage the European countries and the EU to display a more constructive interest in Macedonia," Cavusoglu said.
Referring to the dispute over Macedonia's constitutional name, an issue which remains unresolved since Macedonia gained its independence in 1991, Cavusoglu said creating obstacles such as "artificial names" was unfair to both Macedonia and the region.
Although the country's constitutional name is the Republic of Macedonia, it is still referred to as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the United Nations.
"Turkey is the first country to recognize Macedonia under its constitutional name, and it has defended and supported Macedonia on every platform using its constitutional name," Cavusoglu added.
Dimitrov, for his part, said Macedonia's foreign policy would be based on the integration of the country with NATO and the EU.
"This is not only because we want to be members of these institutions, but also because we want to live by their values.
"Our goal is to paint a positive picture for Macedonia, to contribute to lasting stability and welfare in the region, and to establish good relations to promote good neighbourhood policy," he said.
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