Turkey says focal point in EU dialogue should be membership talks
ANKARATurkey “wants to leave tension with the European Union behind,” but the focus of dialogue with the bloc should be on the axis of opening new accession chapters, government spokesperson and Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmuş has stated.
“We have not given up the full membership perspective with the EU just because we have taken other topics onto our agenda,” he said after a cabinet meeting on May 29.
He was referring to a consensus between Ankara and Brussels at a meeting of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25, at which they agreed to revive ties.
Turkey’s main goal is to maintain relations with the EU under the framework of full future membership, Kurtulmuş said.
The parties could discuss bilateral relations “but the key issue is opening new negotiation chapters,” he said.
The Foreign Ministry and the EU will study a 12-month calendar regarding the upcoming agenda of talks with Brussels and work on topics that will be prioritized, he also noted.
Following the meeting in Brussels, Erdoğan said the EU had presented Turkey with a new 12-month timetable for renewing relations.
Relations between the bloc and Ankara soured during the campaign for the April 16 constitutional referendum, with Germany and the Netherlands banning Turkish ministers from holding rallies to meet with Turkish voters abroad.
In the run-up to the referendum, Erdoğan said he would approve the reimposition of the death penalty if parliament approves it, even though the move would automatically end Turkey’s EU bid.
Turkey and the EU had agreed on giving a new impetus to relations but the agenda mostly depends on keeping up talks on upgrading the Customs Union agreement and the migrant deal signed in 2016.
According to the road map, the EU and Turkey will ensure they fulfill the obligations in the migrant deal they signed on March 18, 2016.
Erdoğan asked the EU to accelerate the flow of funds for refugees and to increase migrant intake by EU volunteering countries. Tusk and Junker also promised that they would make the necessary initiatives on behalf of the EU Commission and the EU Council.
The deal on a plan to stop migration through illegal channels in the Aegean Sea by cracking down on human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey had become a source of tension between the bloc and Ankara, as the latter criticized Brussels for releasing the humanitarian funds too slowly. Brussels, on the other hand, has pushed Turkey to change its anti-terror law.
The agreement also called for a visa waiver for Turks visiting the EU.
EU: Turkey, EU to continue cooperation
The meeting between Erdoğan and EU officials was “positive and constructive,” a spokesman for the European Commission stated on May 29.
“What we can say as a result of these meetings is that the EU and Turkey must and will continue to cooperate,” Margaritis Schinas said at a press conference.
“A new era has started,” Schinas said, stressing that both sides continue to have “common interests.”