EU, Turkey to work on new roadmap: Top Turkish diplomat

EU, Turkey to work on new roadmap: Top Turkish diplomat

EU, Turkey to work on new roadmap: Top Turkish diplomat

Turkey and the EU agreed on working on a roadmap for enhancing relations, the Turkish foreign minister said on Jan. 22.

Speaking to journalists in Brussels after his two-day working visit, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said "2020 was a problematic year” for relations between Turkey and the EU but a more positive dialogue has developed since the EU leaders’ meeting in December.

“We interpreted the joint statement of the December meeting as a hand extended towards Turkey and we reciprocate it in a positive way,” said Çavuşoğlu.

Turkey is always ready to improve its relations with any party or institution extending a positive hand, he said, adding that Turkey fulfills its promises.

“But in relations, of course, one side’s wish or dedication is not enough, and the EU should also be dedicated. And I'd like to say that in my talks with all my counterparts, I've witnessed a very positive approach and a will to improve our relations,” he stressed.

The presidents of the European Council and Commission will visit Turkey upon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's invitation for talks on Turkey-EU relations, Çavuşoğlu noted.

He said the migration pact between Turkey and the EU will hit its fifth anniversary in March but there are still parts of the agreement that the EU has not fulfilled its commitments.

Visa liberalization and modernization of Turkey’s 1995 Customs Union with the EU were part of this agreement and “unfortunately no steps have been taken in this regard,” said Çavuşoğlu.

“There were 72 criteria for the visa liberalization and up until last year we were able to fulfill 66 of them. So, only six were left outstanding, and before coming here we looked into the situation again with some colleagues, and only four are left for the time being,” said Çavuşoğlu.

"I think it was because of the impact of certain EU countries which did not want to establish visa liberalization" that "it did not happen so far".

"But we've taken all necessary steps and will continue to do so,” he added.

Çavuşoğlu noted that Turkey's EU membership process should also be kept alive, adding that Ankara is always ready to take steps to fulfill opening and closing criteria of the negotiation chapters.

Cyprus issue

Çavuşoğlu said the EU expressed willingness to attend the UN-initiated "5+1 unofficial meeting" on Cyprus, between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, and three guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K.

The EU has always attended these meetings as an observer and they still can, but they only supported the Greek Cypriots’ rights, while ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, he stressed.

“Turkish Cypriots’ trust should be won back,” said Çavuşoğlu.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Turkey's intervention as a guarantor power.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK. 

Çavuşoğlu, who arrived in Brussels on Wednesday for a two-day visit, met a number of top EU officials, including European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.