Turkish gov’t insists on good economic ties with EU, integration

Turkish gov’t insists on good economic ties with EU, integration

Neşe İdil – ISTANBUL
Turkish gov’t insists on good economic ties with EU, integration Turkey’s relations with the European Union will continue, two high-level state officials have said as relations between Ankara and the bloc face a difficult test.

“Turkey’s economic integration into the EU will continue. In December 2016, the European Commission unanimously approved the upgrading of the customs union. This is a very important area where we think that there will be significant progress going forward,” Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of the Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit on April 28, adding that Turkey-EU trade volume could be doubled with certain steps.

“Regardless of the political backdrop, the European Parliament won’t get in the way,” he said.

“If we could update the Turkey-EU customs union to include public procurement, services and agriculture, we could easily double the Turkey-EU trade volume from about 150 billion to 300 billion dollars over the next decade or two. This is low-hanging-fruit,” he said.

“I’m sure that regardless of the political backdrop … upgrading the customs union is going to be in the interest of Europe and Turkey and, therefore, I don’t think that the European Parliament will get in the way. In fact, when you look at the deliberations in the European Parliament, if you look at the draft resolution, it actually does call for continued progress on upgrading the customs union,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, meanwhile, said Turkey’s relationship with the EU was important and that Ankara wanted to maintain it.

“We want to keep good relations with the EU and want to keep EU membership as a strategic goal,” Kalın said during a meeting, while adding that “relations have to be a two-way street.”

“If we are talking about a partnership based on quality, respect, mutual interest and trust, it has to be a two-way street. It cannot be just the Europeans telling Turkey what to do or not do,” he said.

Noting that Europe had violated its own principles and was contradicting themselves, Kalın said the EU had not fulfilled its promises even though there were agreements.

“If Europe really wants progress in its relations with Turkey, then why does it allow terrorist groups to collect money or recruit members on their soil?” he also said.

During his speech, Kalın said supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “can freely walk in the European capitals and hang posters.”

“Why do European countries allow these terrorist organizations against a strategic partner like Turkey? If our European friends really want to repair this relationship or establish a healthy one, then they should act on the presence of these illegal and terrorist groups in Europe,” he said.