Turkey-EU hold ‘constructive’ political dialogue meeting
Mogherini welcomed Turkey’s efforts to improve relations with the EU and described Turkey as a “candidate country and a strategic partner.”
Turkey expects full EU membership and “should not be faced with political obstacles,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a joint news conference Mogherini and EU Neighborhood Policy Minister Johannes Hahn.
Making statements that isolate Turkey and deny its candidacy to the EU is “no use,” he said. The minister’s remarks were an indirect reply to a recent statement of Commissioner Hahn in which he called for an end to accession negotiations with Turkey.
EU officials were in Ankara for the Turkey-EU High Level Political Dialogue meeting where they discussed Turkey’s long-stalled membership bid and foreign policy issues of common interest, including United States sanctions on Iran, the refugee crisis and the situation in Syria.
Speaking at the joint press conference, Çavuşoğlu emphasized that the March 18, 2016 refugee deal must be fully implemented, adding that the EU should also carry out some of its obligations as part of the deal.
“We will fulfill the remaining criteria soon,” he said, adding Turkey had fulfilled 72 criteria and had six remaining to be able to travel to Schengen countries visa-free.
“Our reform group gathered most recently in August. We will hold the second meeting on Dec. 11 and revise the reform programs that we elaborated. Reform has always been a priority in Turkey. We were subjected to a coup attempt and notably since the Gezi Park protests, there had been an immense amount of attempts to overthrow the elected government. We are carrying on our work to normalize Turkey after the elections,” he said.
The minister said Turkey expects concrete support from EU member states in its counter-terrorism efforts. Turkey welcomes the measures taken against the illegal PKK in some European countries, especially in Germany and England, said Çavuşoğlu. “However, these are insufficient,” he said.
On the part of Mogherini, the EU official emphasized that a stronger Turkey means a democratic Turkey where fundamental freedoms are fully respected with the basis of the superiority of law and an independent judiciary. Mogherini said a healthy and united Turkish society will become more powerful by establishing a systematic, open dialogue between free press, civil society and decision-makers.
She expressed their “strong concerns about the detention of several prominent academics and civil society representatives, including recently.”
The EU official also called for the release from jail of Turkey’s former pro-Kurdish party leader Selahattin Demirtaş, in line with a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling this week. A transparent and credible investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has not yet been completed, Mogherini also said.
“It is meaningless for the EU to defend people who carried out actions to topple the elected government in Turkey simply because they are civil society members,” said the minister, speaking on the issue.
Speaking about the ongoing investigation regarding Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death, Çavuşoğlu asserted that Turkey and the United Nations are receiving demands from international communities about an international investigation due to the prolongation of the process.
He pointed out the significance of issuing a call for three reporters to send a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General on establishing an independent investigation mechanism in the framework of the demands under the guidance of U.N.
The foreign minister said they are willing to cooperate with every country, notably Saudi Arabia, and expressed that their own investigation will be conducted in accordance with the international community.