Turkey ‘expects concrete steps from EU’

Turkey ‘expects concrete steps from EU’

Turkey ‘expects concrete steps from EU’

Turkey wants to see concrete steps from the European Union to further enhance positive developments in the dialogue between Ankara and Brussels, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 18.

“Turkey-EU ties are in a more positive place now thanks to constructive steps,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

“This dialogue is important but concrete steps should also come,” he said.

The minister reiterated that Turkey has long been waiting for visa liberalization, updating the migrant deal and upgrading the Customs Union agreement and noted that the issues of irregular human trafficking and terrorism are other areas that need concrete cooperation.

Çavuşoğlu stressed that Turkey has taken steps for better dialogue with Greece and the EU, but these efforts have nothing to do with the sanctions that the block initiated at its last summit.

“Not because we were afraid of the sanctions, but because we received a positive response [from the EU] in December,” he said, referring to the EU leaders’ summit.

The outcome of the EU’s December summit was not fully satisfactory for Ankara but was a positive step towards Turkey, he said and emphasized Turkey-EU relations have been in a positive atmosphere since then.

Çavuşoğlu recalled his visit to EU term minister Portugal and Spain last week and his upcoming visit to Brussels next week as part of this atmosphere of positive dialogue.

Last month, the EU prepared punitive measures over Turkey’s dispute with Greece and Greek Cyprus over rights to offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean. France was among EU states urging sanctions against Ankara. But the bloc decided to postpone the measures until March.

Turkey has been embroiled in a series of disputes with its EU partners, but Ankara has softened its rhetoric recently.

Turkey and Germany agreed to revive bilateral dialogue mechanism in the coming days, the Turkish minister said, noting that he presented Maas a list of defense industry products that do not have export permits from Germany to Turkey.

The German foreign minister, for his part, said he hoped Turkey-EU ties deepen. They discussed the issues of migrants, the economy and the pandemic, he said and added, “We want to be in a constructive dialogue on these issues.”

When it comes to ties between Turkey and the EU, “constructive cooperation will be to the benefit of both sides instead of talking about measures,” the German minister said.

“Setting up a positive agenda on the issue of the eastern Mediterranean will be favorable. From now on we should look forward,” Maas stated.

Maas expressed satisfaction that Turkey has left behind the “difficult discussions of last year” and asked for exploratory talks with Greece to be started again.

“Everyone welcomed this step. At the same time, the withdrawal of the Barbaros ship from Cyprus is supported as a positive signal,” he said.

Turkey has been hosting millions of Syrian refugees and it may not be much appreciated in Europe, but it is successful, he added.