EU can’t act as court on E Med: Turkish FM
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
The European Union, as a political organization, cannot act as a court on a legal issue such as maritime jurisdictions, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, speaking at 11th Ambassadors’ Conference.
Turkey will never allow steps that ignore the legitimate rights and interests of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, he added. “We will not credit so-called measures of the EU. Cyprus is our national cause. The equality and security of the Turkish Cypriot people are indispensable. On this basis, we do not exclude any solution,” he said, referring to the sanctions imposed by the EU on Ankara over its drillings activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
The minister stressed that Turkey does not exclude “result-oriented negotiations” aiming settlement in Cyprus but noted that launching a new round of talks is useless if it’s just face-saving.
“We want to see Greece as a partner on the basis of win-win about all issues in the region,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu underlined that Turkey backed a common solution in which the energy resources are equally shared in the eastern Mediterranean. “Our message to everyone interested in the [Eastern Mediterranean] region is the same. If you cooperate with us, everyone wins.”
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, asserting that Turkish Cyprus also has rights to the resources in the area. Ankara has sent two drilling ships to explore for gas in the waters off the divided island, prompting accusations from Greece that it is undermining security in the region.
Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez will visit Turkey drillship Yavuz in the eastern Mediterranean on Aug. 6, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News.
If the EU had consumed its energy for better use, instead of excluding Turkey, Turkey would be a member of the economic and political bloc and the EU would be a stronger international actor, the minister said.
Çavuşoğlu noted that EU membership is a strategic issue that cannot be left to extremists who have left their mark on Europe in this period.
“We will continue to do our part. We will try to advance our European Union membership process in terms of reforms, communication, visa liberalization, updating the Customs Union and opening the way for our accession process.”
“We will not focus on the flaws of the EU but on the goals we have set together decades ago,” he added.
Çavuşoğlu also called on the United States to end its support for the YPG group in northern Syria.
The U.S. [government] should positively answer our request to end its partnership with the YPG in Syria,” he said.
Turkey launches “Asia Anew” initiative
The minister also announced that Turkey is launching a new initiative targeting the Asia region.
“Asia is becoming the economic center of the world. The international community vies for greater involvement in Asia. Turkey has deep roots in this most dynamic region of the world. Being Asian and in Asia is as important as being European and in Europe for us.”
Çavuşoğlu pointed to the necessity of a new policy in Asia which considers differences in the continent but in a holistic way. “We hereby announce the Asia initiative which is called ‘Asia Anew.’ We will further develop our relations within a holistic framework,” he said.
“This approach will reflect the basic features of our humanitarian and entrepreneurial foreign policy, which is strong in the field and on the table.” The minister stated that Asia Anew would include cooperation on education, defense industry, investments, trade, technology, culture and political dialogue.
Turkey’s main goal with Asia Anew is not to “axis shift,” he added. “Now our Western friends will start complaining again saying, ‘What’s going on? Is it an axis shift in your foreign policy? Has Turkey turned its back to Europe and its face to another place?”
“Then let me ask you this: ‘Do you shift the axis of your foreign policy when you go there [Asia]? Why does it become an axis change when Turkey goes there?” he said, adding that Turkey is geographically the axis itself among the continents.