Turkey: We are not bluffing, EU deals may be frozen

Turkey: We are not bluffing, EU deals may be frozen

Emine Kart - ANKARA
Turkey: We are not bluffing, EU deals may be frozen

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Turkey is not “bluffing” or uttering “threats” when it says it could suspend all agreements signed with the European Union, including an agreement on the readmission of people residing in the EU without authorization, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.

The EU needs to be “fair” to Turkey, Çavuşoğlu said May 24.

“Treating Turkey like this, in the shape of a fait accompli, after Turkey has displayed its sincerity and determination by taking these very important steps, is not realistic. We will agree, we will implement [the deal]. Everybody should keep their promises, otherwise – this is not a bluff or a threat – we will set aside all the agreements we signed, including readmission, if you do not keep your word,” he said.

"While there is no definition of ‘terror’ which is accepted in the world, telling Turkey, which is fighting against all kinds of terror, ‘You have to make this definition now regardless,’ is not a realistic demand,” Çavuşoğlu said in remarks aired live on public broadcaster TRT Haber. 

His remarks came a day after an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey could suspend all of its agreements with the European Union, including a customs union, if the bloc continues its “double standards” in talks with Ankara. 

A deal between Brussels and Ankara to stem the flow of illegal migrants into Europe has been hampered by disagreements over Turkey’s counter-terrorism law, which the EU wants to see brought in line with EU standards. 

Turkey has accused Europe of throwing up new hurdles in the deal, which is meant to give Turks visa-free travel to the EU in return for curbing illegal migration. 

Meet with Timmermans in Antalya

Çavuşoğlu and the vice president of the European Union’s executive body have agreed to hold a bilateral meeting later this week in order to deal with the latest developments surrounding the landmark, yet controversial, migration deal.

Çavuşoğlu initiated a phone call with the European Commission’s vice president, Frans Timmermans, late on May 23, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News on May 24.

Çavuşoğlu told TRT that he voiced Turkey’s “unease” over recent statements from the EU during the call with Timmermans. The minister and Timmermans agreed to meet in Antalya on the sidelines of a United Nations conference in the coming days, he added.

“Within this framework, an agreement in principle has been reached to hold a meeting with Timmermans at the foreign minister level in the coming days, either in Antalya or Ankara on the sidelines of the Midterm Review conference for the Istanbul Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs),” the diplomatic source told HDN earlier on May 24.

The Mediterranean resort province of Antalya, the hometown of Çavuşoğlu, will host the U.N. conference set to set to undertake a review of progress made during the past five years by the world’s 48 LDCs from May 27 to 29.

“During the call, views have been exchanged in regards to the particularity on mutually implementing of the agreement reached with the EU within the context of the irregular migration and readmission/visa liberalization arrangements,” the diplomatic source, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, also said.

When the diplomatic sources were speaking with the HDN in the morning hours, Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, had not yet unveiled his new cabinet line-up two days after being given a mandate by Erdoğan.

Çavuşoğlu is among the ministers who remained in place.

‘Very radical decisions’

Just a few hours before Çavuşoğlu initiated the call with Timmermans, Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held thorny talks on the sidelines of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Sources from the Turkish president’s office said Erdoğan and Merkel agreed that Turkey needed talks with EU institutions on its sensitivities in the fight against terrorism as they try to keep a landmark migration deal on track. 

Earlier on the same day, however, Erdoğan’s economy adviser, Yiğit Bulut, told state broadcaster TRT that Turkey could make “very radical decisions,” including shelving a customs union agreement with the EU, if the bloc fails to “meet promises made to Turkish citizens.”

“Let them continue to apply double standards, let them continue not to keep their promises for Turkish citizens, but they should know that if they maintain this attitude Turkey will take some very radical decisions very soon,” Bulut said. “[Turkey] could review all relations with the EU, including the customs union deals and the migrant readmission agreements. Europe has to keep its promises,” he said.