Turkey, EU ‘look to build better ties’

Turkey, EU ‘look to build better ties’

Turkey, EU ‘look to build better ties’

Senior officials from Turkey and the EU held a high-level Economic Dialogue meeting on Dec. 8, saying they seek to improve ties, boost economic performance, and resolve major common issues after a rocky period in relations.

The meeting in Brussels was co-chaired by European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek.

The two sides particularly focused on how to create a platform to bring business circles together.

During a follow-up press meeting with Şimşek, Katainen said the EU and Turkey are “strategic partners.”“We need each other to thrive economically and solve major common international challenges,” he added.

Katainen noted that bilateral ties should improve “once conditions are right,” citing concerns over the rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey.

“Today’s meeting is one of those strategic meetings for us that will pave the way for much more constructive dialogue in the upcoming years,” he added.

Şimşek said Turkey and the EU clearly remained strong partners and sought to assure that Ankara remains committed to maintaining EU values.

“For Turkey, the EU remains the source of inspiration when it comes to strengthening the rule of law,” he said, adding that the both sides should focus on a “more positive agenda.”

“Turkey is not a liability but an asset for the EU. My government is committed to adopting fundamental rights and the rule of law,” Şimşek said, appealing for the EU to understand that Turkey “overcame a very difficult period in the last couple of years.”

Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, responsible for Trade, also participated in the Economic Dialogue meeting.

Şimşek was accompanied by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkci. Representatives of EU and Turkish business associations also participated in the discussions.

Turkey still wants to update Customs Union deal

Earlier on Dec. 8, Şimşek gave a speech at a conference organized by the European Policy Center in Brussels, saying Turkey still wants to update the customs union agreement with the European Union.

“An update of the customs union agreement between the EU and Turkey is in everyone’s interest,” he said.

Şimşek stressed that accession to the EU remains an “indispensable target” for his country. “A prosperous and stable Turkey is in the interests of Europe,” he added.

The deputy prime minister also called for a new trade agreement that will liberalize all service sectors and public procurement with the EU, adding that Turkey’s economy is continuing to converge with that of the EU.

“Turkey has a very strong banking sector. Spending on education while improving internal and external investment environments are priorities for reform,” Şimşek said.

“We are deeply committed to making reforms despite the challenges we have been facing. Turkey is faced by a continued terror threat. The state of emergency was not a political move but rather a necessary tool in hard times.” he added.