EU reforms still a priority for Turkey, FM Çavuşoğlu says

EU reforms still a priority for Turkey, FM Çavuşoğlu says

VILNIUS/ANKARA
EU reforms still a priority for Turkey, FM Çavuşoğlu says

The Turkish government will resume the “Reform Action Group” meetings on Aug. 29, after a three-year break, in a sign Ankara is stepping up efforts to revive ties with the EU. 

Stressing that problems in relations between the EU and Turkey are mainly on political issues, rather than technical, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Ankara “prioritizes reform in Turkey’s EU path” and the Reform Action Group will gather in Ankara with the attendance of Turkey’s interior and justice ministers.

Turkey aims to meet certain criteria in the EU path, the foreign minister said. “After the lifting of the state of emergency, our priority is reforms.”

The ministers “will evaluate a road map for reform and action plans,” Çavuşoğlu said Aug. 28, speaking at a joint press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart Linas Linkevicius in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.

“Turkey’s expectation from the EU is very clear. We don’t want any gestures that are not deserved. We just want the ones Turkey deserves and the ones promised,” he said.

The Reform Action Group last gathered in 2015. Since then talks on Turkey’s accession into the bloc has been at a standstill.

Çavuşoğlu stressed Turkey’s ties with Russia “is not an alternative” to relations with the EU or the United States.

“Our relations with Russia are not an alternative to our relations with Lithuania, the European Union or our relations with the United States... Turkey can perfectly balance its foreign policy in the region,” the foreign minister added.

Earlier, Çavuşoğlu met Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

“At our meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, we conveyed [to her] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s best wishes and congratulations on the occasion of the Centennial of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania,” Çavuşoğlu 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 in Turkey’s EU accession process,” he added.

Talks with EU intensify

Çavuşoğlu will attend the Gymnich meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna on Aug. 30-31, the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Aug. 28.

The Gymnich meeting will be held with the participation of the foreign ministers of EU member and candidate countries, and Çavuşoğlu will attend the informal meeting upon the invitation of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, whose country currently holds the EU presidency.

The Gymnich meetings “give the opportunity for an exchange of views on foreign policy developments. During the meeting, the participants will mainly exchange views on multilateralism, digitalization and critical infrastructure areas, as well as on current regional and global developments and challenges,” the ministry said.

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, foreign policy, European Union