Conservatives and Reformists, the third largest parliamentary group in the European parliament, has vowed strong cooperation with Turkey in fighting attacks on its soil.

The pledge was made at the second summit of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR), which was held in Antalya, Turkey, on Saturday.

Overshadowed by a suicide blast in Istanbul on the same day, the summit was opened by Daniel Hannan, secretary-general of AECR, who highlighted the security threats facing Turkey after the attack on Saturday as well as attacks in November, January and last week. 

Hannan stressed that the problem could not be solved with security measures alone, but through enhancing the principles of "the rule of law, personal liberty, open competition, national sovereignty, mainstream free-market, parliamentary supremacy, and religious pluralism".

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Syed Kamall, chairman of Britain's ECR Group, echoed the major challenges faced by Turkey and the important role played by Ankara in helping to solve global crises - such as the refugee issue - and contributing to the ongoing debate about the future of secular Muslim countries.

"The debate over the rise of terrorism, the effects of Arab Spring, the situation in Syria and the refugee crisis will certainly make the next few years challenging both politically and economically for Turkey," Kamall told the gathering.

"In the face of those challenges we believe it is more important than ever to hold fast to the values that have worked in the past: pluralism, respect for minorities, and a liberal market economy that spreads wealth to everyone."

Threats and challenges

Having held a first summit in November in Tunisia, the Antalya gathering sought to continue spreading the values of centre-right political parties in Muslim-majority countries.

Some 200 parliamentarians, party leaders, ministers, academics and policy experts, as well as at least 30 mainstream centre-right parties from around the word, took part in the meeting to promote what AECR called a "shared belief in free nations, free peoples and free markets".

Suay Alpay, Turkey's deputy minister for defence, outlined the major security challenges facing the frontline NATO state, and urged global cooperation and coordination to face threats and restore stability to the region.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Alpay accused Russia of playing a negative role in the region and feeding what he called extremism and radicalism.


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"Turkey, Iran and Russia should play the role of balancing actors in maintaining the region's stability," he said.

"Russia, unfortunately, is destroying this balancing act because of its military actions against Syrian legitimate opposition groups. Russia, therefore, has created a situation where terrorist and radical groups gained more grounds." 

Refugee crisis

The participants paid tribute to Turkey for providing housing and sanctuary for 2.8 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

They also agreed that dealing with refugee flows into Turkey and Europe was complex. Some advocated that asylum seekers should not have freedom to move around Europe, but should be made to apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach.

A left-wing member of the European Parliament from Ireland, Martina Anderson, told Al Jazeera that left-wing parties in Europe profoundly disagree with many of the parties that make up the AECR and called for talks on issues of mutual concern, such as the refugee crisis.

European countries were giving wildly different signals to those fleeing war and persecution, she said.

A vehicle burns after an explosion in Ankara [Reuters]

"People expect the countries of the EU to work together to resolve the crisis. All member states are and should be bound by international law with regard to the treatment of refugees," she said.

"What is very disappointing is that EU leaders seem all too willing to accept and even encourage this violation of international law.

"We bring a message of hope and progressive change to people. We work in the democratic institutions, seeking to improve them, seeking to hold the powerful to account.

"And we work with people and communities, standing alongside them in their daily struggles and encouraging them to work for a fairer and more equal society."

Source: Al Jazeera