EU, Turkey talks won’t stop: German minister
Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
AA photoNegotiations between Turkey and the European Union will continue and difficulties over the visa waiver for Turkish nationals will be resolved, Michael Roth, Germany’s State Minister for EU Affairs, has vowed.
“Conditions to be fulfilled for the visa exemption have been definite for a long time. The last remaining issues must be resolved. I am of the opinion that both parties will continue to work for granting a visa exemption to Turkish nationals,” Roth told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Aug. 25.
Roth was in Ankara to pay a visit to Turkish EU Minister Ömer Çelik and to visit the Turkish Parliament.
Citing Turkey’s importance as a key ally in NATO and partner for the EU, Roth also addressed Ankara’s complaints over growing criticism from European capitals on measures taken by the Turkish government against suspected Gülenists in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup attempt.
“Critical questions are posed in Europe. That should be understood. I feel responsible to those who defend European values in Turkey, I don’t want to close my door on them. That is why we don’t accept any halt in EU negotiations,” he said.
Judicial independence, freedom of the media and protection of fundamental rights are issues that Brussels continues to raise in talks with Ankara, Roth added.
“The EU is a community of values and there will be no political concessions on these. We need dialogue in the face critical questions in order to support Turkey on its path. EU negotiations constitute a good opportunity to this end,” he said.
Coup attempt condemned
The German official also condemned the thwarted military coup attempt.
“Governments change through elections in democracies, not by force. President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan was elected and [Turkey] has a democratic and legitimate government,” Roth said, recalling that Turkish opposition parties and citizens rejected the coup attempt.
However, he also stressed that the reaction in the aftermath of the coup attempt should be “proportionate and within the boundaries of the rule of law.”
“There are questions posed not only by politics but also by German public opinion on this issue. As the representative of a country with three million people of Turkish origin, I am responsible for protecting our relationship. That’s why I wanted to see with my own eyes the situation in Turkey after the coup attempt was thwarted,” Roth stated.