Turkey urges EU for decision on upgrading Customs Union
Sevil Erkuş - ANTALYA
While calling on the leaders of the European Union (EU) to make the upcoming summit a turning point for ties between Ankara and Brussels, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on June 20 urged the Union to take decisions for concrete steps for this bid, including a mandate that will authorize the EU Commission to negotiate Customs Union with Turkey.
“The EU must now return to the table. We expect concrete steps from the EU,” Çavuşoğlu said while urging EU leaders to launch talks to upgrade the Customs Union agreement and renew the migrant deal in a way to meet the necessities of the current problems.
The modernization of the Customs Union agreement is not a political issue, and it is for the benefit of both parties, he stated.
On the other hand, there are a few steps to be taken regarding other elements of the migration deal signed in 2016, including visa liberalization for free travel of Turks in Europe, Çavuşoğlu noted.
“It should not be stuck on a few words and waste time on fulfilling the remaining criteria,” he stated.
The minister recalled statements by EU officials and politicians in which they said, “Even though we have disagreements with Turkey, Turkey is an indispensable and important ally for us.”
“These words may sound good. But are there any concrete steps? None so far. We expect concrete steps at this summit,” he added.
The problem of irregular migration will continue after COVID-19, and even many people tend to leave Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces, he added.
Afghanistan mission needs support of international community
Elaborating on Turkey’s proposal to secure and manage the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, the minister stressed that the support of the international community and other countries was crucial for this mission.
“First of all, we need support from Afghanistan itself. The Afghan administration also wants Turkey to stay here. We will stand by Afghanistan as long as Afghanistan needs it. This does not mean that we will be there only as a military force. The issue of security and operation of the airport from now on may be possible with the support of some countries and the international community. We are negotiating with these countries.”
Greece needs to stop provocations
The recent meetings with the Greek officials show Turkey’s determination to solve the problems through dialogue, the minister said but urged Athens “to give up provocations.”
“At the press conferences, everything is fine, but afterward, my friend [Greek foreign minister Nikos] Dendias says a lot of things behind our backs. These are not needed. We ignore them,” he stated.
There is a gentleman’s agreement not to hold any drills in the Aegean during the summer tourism season, but Greece is now declaring NAVTEX, he noted.
“We had an agreement not to issue NAVTEX and hold exercises on national days as well. Greece broke that too. Greece must give up provocations. I know they are trying to satisfy their people. Because there is a lot of pressure on them. We want to turn the dialogue we started into concrete steps,” the minister added.
‘We welcome Russia’s decision’
Çavuşoğlu meanwhile welcomed Russia’s decision to resume flights to Turkey and said more than two million Russian tourists want to visit Turkey this year.
The minister expressed hope that the outcome of the election in Armenia would pave the way for cooperation with regional countries including Turkey.
“Armenia should better think ways to go along with its neighbors instead of animosity,” Çavuşoğlu said.