FM Çavuşoğlu urges joint effort against extremism in Europe
Turkish foreign minister on Jan. 31 called for a joint effort to ward off extremist ideas in Europe.
"We should fight against these extremist ideas no matter in which country they are. Our common values will continue to wear off if we do not challenge movements that are racist and hate everybody except themselves," said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital.
His remarks came in a news conference alongside his Bulgarian counterpart Ekaterina Zakharieva, in the wake of a racist attack of independent Greek member of European Parliament (EP) against Turkish flag.
Addressing the EP on Jan. 29, Ioannis Lagos tore up a paper Turkish flag after blaming Turkey for illegal migration flow into Greece.
Lagos is one of the most prominent figures of the far-right racist Golden Dawn party.
He was found guilty last year of attacking a community center in Athens which was hosting asylum seekers.
“These racists are also anti-Semitic. They also hate people of other ethnic backgrounds. If we cannot prevent this today, it will be a disaster for the future of Europe,” said Çavuşoğlu.
European Parliament President David Sassoli began sanction procedures against Lagos for ripping apart a Turkish flag, the institution's spokeswoman Delphine Colard told Anadolu Agency on Jan. 30.
The host official Zakharieva, for her part, said: "It is absolutely unacceptable to abuse and humiliate national symbols."
Bilateral relations between Turkey, Bulgaria
Çavuşoğlu also praised Bulgaria's role in Turkey's EU process.
"We are aware of the positive role Bulgaria plays within the EU. We are especially pleased with the attitude Bulgaria adopts towards Turkey. For us, Bulgaria's term presidency in 2018 was the most active period of the EU," he said.
On the bilateral relations, Zakharieva stressed the the friendly and permanent cooperation between the two countries.
“I am very pleased that this friendship and partnership are improving day by day. … Turkey is a NATO ally and neighbor of us, and one of the most important economic partners of us,” she said.
She also said Turkey is a significant partner of Bulgaria in counter-terrorism and illegal migration, and they discussed the cooperation in these areas in Jan. 31's meeting.
Commenting on a letter he sent to the EU leaders recommending them to review their enlargement policies, Çavuşoğlu said: "Although we are not a member today, we are part of Europe. The security, stability and development of Europe are important for us."
Çavuşoğlu on Jan. 27 wrote a letter to officials in Europe on the EU's new enlargement policy.
The letter was sent to EU high representative Josep Borrell, Oliver Varhelyi, commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, and Gordan Grlic-Radman, Croatia's minister of foreign and European affairs.
Croatia holds the presidency of the EU Council until July 2020.
In the letter, Çavuşoğlu stressed the importance of conducting the expansion process in a credible, sustainable, fair and flexible manner, highlighting Turkey's accession process to the EU.
The letter drew attention to the importance of the method that is followed during the accession negotiations to the EU and the regional and global role that the EU wants to play in the future.