UPDATE 2 – Ties with Russia no alternative to EU, says Turkish FM

ADDS TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER'S MEETING WITH LITHUANIAN PREMIER, CHANGES DECK

By Merve Aydogan

ANKARA (AA) – Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday once again underscored that Turkey's ties with Russia were "not an alternative" to the country's relations with the EU or the U.S.

"Our relations with Russia is not an alternative to our relations with Lithuania or to European Union or our relations with the United States… Turkey can perfectly balance its foreign policy in this region," Cavusoglu said in a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius following their meeting.

Regarding a delegation from the U.S. Congress visiting Turkey, Cavusoglu highlighted the significance of dialogue between the U.S. and Turkey.

"[The fact that] Congress members are coming to Turkey is important. Because there are different institutions in the U.S. Different positions, different beliefs […] Of course, there are also members of the Congress who know the importance of Turkey and those who strive for the strengthening of Turkey-U.S. relations," he added.

Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations after Washington imposed sanctions on two Turkish Cabinet ministers for not releasing an American pastor facing terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

"Turkey is not one of the states of the United States, Turkey is an independent state. We don’t have to agree on every decision or actions of one country against another country, particularly when it is not fair and not just," he said, referring to the U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Earlier, Cavusoglu arrived in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius for an official visit and met Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

“At our meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, we conveyed [to her] President Erdogan’s best wishes and congratulations on the occasion of the Centennial of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania,” Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

Also on Twitter, he announced the signing of the "Turkey-Lithuania Agreement on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments."

“We appreciate Lithuania’s support for Turkey’s EU accession process," Cavusoglu added.

Cavusoglu also reiterated Turkey's determination for EU membership.

"We [Turkey] know that many obstacles in front of us are not technical, but political."

Later, the minister also met Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

In a Twitter post, Cavusoglu said they discussed bilateral economic relations, fight against terror and cooperation at NATO.

* Diyar Guldogan from Ankara contributed to this story.

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