EU should act 'sincerely' for progress in ties: Turkish FM

EU should act 'sincerely' for progress in ties: Turkish FM

EU should act sincerely for progress in ties: Turkish FM

The European Union should “act sincerely and strategically and not repeat its previous mistakes” to make progress in EU-Turkey ties, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 16.

“We have an important opportunity for progress,” the minister said at a joint press conference with his Slovakian counterpart, Ivan Korcok, and urged the EU to take concrete steps on the bilateral agenda and “not run down the clock” regarding the issues with Turkey.

Çavuşoğlu stated that a positive atmosphere was created after the EU leaders’ summit in December 2020, but the positive environment was not enough, and Ankara expects concrete developments.

“The positive atmosphere is good, but we have to take concrete steps to make this sustainable,” he stated, noting that a stable dialogue has been established recently and an “important opportunity” has emerged.

Sorting out Turkey’s expectations, Çavuşoğlu initially urged Brussels not to make a categorization of “Turkey and the Western Balkans” when it comes to the candidate countries.

Turkey “has kept all the promises it has given and will keep in the future; also it is ready to meet all the criteria,” but the EU should not block the process with the “political obstacles,” Çavuşoğlu stated.

He reminded Turkey’s expectation to take steps in updating the Customs Union deal and to take a step in launching visa liberalization for free travel of Turkish citizens in the European Union.

The minister pointed at the fact that the negotiations between Turkey and the EU have been stalled due to political reasons and the two parties only have a migration deal to work on at the moment. However, the minister said, Brussels has not met its promises for the agreement.

“We have only one migration agreement left. When we look at it since 2016, Turkey has fulfilled all its obligations in the context of this agreement. The EU did not, could not, did not want to,” he stated.

He reminded that Turkey has made a proposal last year for updating the migration deal, but Brussels has yet to respond. Moreover, the EU has not responded to a proposal of Turkey to hold a conference on the Eastern Mediterranean either, he added.

Citing the tensions between Turkey and the EU in 2020 with regards to the eastern Mediterranean, the minister said the union “acted completely against Turkey in the framework of solidarity at the expense of contradicting their own values.”

European Union leaders did not visit Turkey after the coup attempt in 2016, but they later apologized, the minister said and added, “the EU has left Turkey alone in the most serious threat, although they say they are aware of the strategic importance of the country.”

For his part, the Slovakian foreign minister hailed bilateral relations with Turkey, expressing a will to deepen relations further. “Turkey is an important ally at the NATO. Not only a partnership, but there is a very important alliance [between Turkey and Slovakia],” Korcok said.