Turkish prime minister visits Macedonia to renew ties

Turkish prime minister visits Macedonia to renew ties

Turkish prime minister visits Macedonia to renew ties

AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was set to leave for the Macedonian capital of Skopje on Dec. 22, for a visit aimed at boosting bilateral relations with the Balkan country, as well as reiterating support for ethnic Turkish communities there.

As part of the visit, which will end on Dec. 23, Davutoğlu is expected to hold several meetings with Macedonian authorities, including his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski and Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, according to a statement by the Prime Ministry press office.

Davutoğlu will also attend a Turkish Education Festival event, which has been held since 2007 in Macedonia, and meet with Turkish people living in the country, the statement said.

Davutoğlu’s contacts will be dominated by talks on bilateral politics, economic and commercial ties, as well as regional and international matters.

According to official data provided by the Macedonian government, there are nearly 80,000 Turks living in Macedonia, constituting around 4 percent of its population.

After living under Ottoman rule for years, most Turks in Macedonia fled to Turkey after the fall of the empire in the early 20th century, but some remained in Macedonia.

The ethnic Turkish community speaking Turkish in the country earned the right to receive education in their own language on Dec. 21, 1944.

The Macedonia Turkish Civilian Agencies Union (MATÜSİTEB) has organized the Turkish-language Education Festival since 2007 to mark the presence of the Turkish language in the country.

Prominent representatives of the Macedonian Turkish community, well-known academics and Macedonian authorities gathered on Dec. 21 to commemorate the seventh year of the festival, which has been held with the support of Turkey’s Skopje Embassy, The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), the Yunus Emre Institute and the Turks Abroad and Related Communities Directorate.