Turkey, EU need each other, should work together: EU commissioner
Uğur ERGAN - ANKARA
AFP photoTurkey and the European Union should continue to cooperate in managing migration, the joint fight against terrorism and in bringing peace to the region, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, told daily Hürriyet in an interview on the first anniversary of the March 18 migrant deal signed to stop the inflow of refugees from Turkey to Greek islands, amid ongoing tension between the two countries.
“Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey,” he stressed.
“Turkey and the EU must never lose the bigger picture out of sight. Turkey and the EU are historical partners, who have tackled geopolitical challenges together in the past, and will continue to do so in the future too. Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey – to better manage migration, to jointly fight terrorism, to bring peace and stability in the wider region,” Avramopoulos said on March 17.
“In these turbulent moments for the EU and Turkey, we must all avoid whatever could undermine our cooperation and give way to prudence, self-constraint and focus on mutual interest,” he stressed, adding “any potential regression of our relations would be, in the long run, detrimental for everyone. Let there be no doubt, working together is beneficial for both.”
Turkey increased its tone of criticism against the EU in recent days in line with ongoing tension with a number of EU countries that disallowed Turkish ministers to meet with Turks living there on the eve of the April 16 referendum.
Turkish senior leaders said the EU failed to deliver its obligations of the agreement – including visa-free travel to Turkish nationals - stressing there was no “appetite” left for the government to continue the deal.
EU commission sticks to agreement
“The commission is also fully committed to ensure continued and full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, which is a contract of mutual trust and delivery, and is to the equal interest and benefit of both. The commission equally continues to provide support and expertise to the Turkish authorities to accelerate the reforms needed in order to fulfil the remaining benchmarks of the visa liberalization roadmap,” the commissioner said, in a bid to soothe Ankara’s concerns.
“Today, the challenges of migration and security are putting pressure on domestic political agendas, but also on cooperation between countries – we see this both inside and outside the European Union. In times of rapid changes, of increasing globalization, many uncertainties arise and our citizens are asking for straightforward and concrete answers – whether they are Turkish, Greek, Dutch or German. Our first duty is to address these concerns, and to protect the safety and freedom of our citizens,” he stressed.
Open, direct dialogue needed
Avramopolous said the only way to work together is to pursue an “open and direct dialogue between the EU and Turkey.”
“When challenging and difficult moments arise, Turkey and the EU must remember their strong and shared past, and must look toward their shared future. Our citizens count on sustained stability and prosperity, based on rights, freedom and rules of our democratic societies,” he said.
“Stability, prosperity, the rule of law, freedom – the cornerstones of our modern democracies are achieved through alliances and collaboration, through working together across borders, across nations,” Avramopolous stated.
“Turkey and the EU must never lose the bigger picture out of sight. Turkey and the EU are historical partners, who have tackled together geopolitical challenges in the past, and will continue to do so in the future too,” he added.