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Turkish delegation to represent historical mission in Latin America

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The Turkish parliamentary delegation head expressed willingness to Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) Friday to represent Turkey’s historical mission and vision in the continent.

“Latin America is a region where we have been making efforts to bring our relations to a certain level, both economically and politically, for many years. We want to represent the historical mission and vision of Turkey coming from the Ottoman Empire in that region,” Ali Şahin, a senior Turkish lawmaker, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

The Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) is a regional, permanent organization comprising of Latin America and the Caribbean countries.

Şahin noted that the Turkish delegation, as an observer, would attend the general assembly of the Parlatino in Panama on Feb.10-12.

“We aim to bring a parliamentary dimension to Turkey’s foreign policy axis in Latin America,” he said.

He noted that they would explore ways to make some progress in economic, political and cultural areas between Turkey and Latin American countries.

“We live in a time in which all borders and distances have disappeared, especially with the internet age and new technologies. In this period in which the borders have disappeared, it is out of the question for us to remain silent and indifferent to the Latin American geography and the American continent,” he said.

Although Turkey has had diplomatic relations with Latin American countries since the 19th century, until the early 2000s the relations remained friendly but, as Turkey’s Foreign Ministry defines, “stagnant” mostly due to geographical distance. In addition, during the Cold War period, Turkey aligned with the Western bloc, while Latin American countries were part of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, with the establishment of the “Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean” in 1998 and the declaration of 2006 as the “Year of Latin America and the Caribbean” in Turkey, relations gained new momentum. From that point on, the two sides began to pay reciprocal official visits to each other.

Şahin, who is from the southeastern province of Gaziantep, noted that there were Armenians with roots in Anatolia in Latin America.

“We will come together with them and make an effort to open a new page again,” he said, adding that they had done some research on Armenians living in many Latin American countries, especially in Argentina.

“They are mostly of Anatolian origin. In this process, we will also make a cultural effort to meet and get in touch with them again,” he added.

Despite being two neighboring countries, Turkey and Armenia have seen many difficulties in their diplomatic relations since Yerevan’s declaration of independence in 1991.

The two countries have long been divided over a range of issues – from Armenia’s refusal to recognize their shared border to its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the 1915 events between the Ottoman Empire and Armenians.

The bilateral relations, however, have gained a new dimension toward normalization recently, with Turkish and Armenian special envoys scheduled to meet in Moscow on Jan. 14 to lead dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan.

Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence on Sept. 21, 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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