Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik said on Saturday his meeting with the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers had resulted in a “very strong consensus” that they should work more closely after ties soured over a failed coup in Ankara.
Celik, speaking via translation, also expressed Turkey’s strong disappointment with the EU’s initial reaction to the failed military coup in July.
But he also told reporters after his talks with EU ministers on Saturday: “As a result of the meeting, there is very strong consensus about focusing on a positive agenda and further enhancing cooperation between Turkey and the EU.”
Easing EU fears, the senior Turkish official said his country would fully implement its part of a deal meant to keep migrants from Europe’s shores even if the European Union refuses to abolish visas for Turkish citizens. But he warned that expanded cooperation on migration depended on that demand being met.
The pledge from Omar Celik after his meeting with EU foreign ministers eased immediate concerns that the agreement now crimping the flow of migrants into Europe was in danger.
Celik said his meeting ended with “very strong consensus about focusing on the positive agenda and to further enhance the cooperation between Turkey and EU.”
Still, the talks yielded no apparent indication of substantial progress on relieving tensions that have worsened in the aftermath of the July coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has instituted a sweeping crackdown of wide segments of society since then, sharpening anti-terror legislation to include critical journalists, conducting mass arrests and firings from public sector jobs and flirting with the possibility of reintroducing the death penalty.
The EU sees such moves as contradicting European human rights norms. It says visa-free travel for Turkish citizens is tied to Ankara rolling back its crackdown. With both sides standing firm there had been fears ahead of the meeting that Turkey might retaliate by backing out of the deal committing it to take back migrants from Syria and elsewhere attempting to enter the EU illegally from Turkey.
Celik appeared to banish those concerns. He told journalists that Turkey would “continue to implement” the deal even if its demands on visa liberalization are not met. At the same time, he warned that without a visa deal, Ankara would not be part of any new arrangement to manage what he said were expectations of a greater migrant influx in the future.
“The (migrant) mechanism will not be enough ... so we need a new mechanism,” he said. “And if (there is) no liberalization, Turkey will not be very positive in setting up a new mechanism.”
He invoked the security problems inherent in Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq in opposing EU calls for easing its terror legislation, saying “it is not rational to expect from Turkey to make any change in the anti-terror law” as long as radical insurgencies rage in those countries.
“We can make some commitments for the future” on the law, he said, without offering anything specific. Meanwhile, said Celik, the EU should move ahead on visa liberalization.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر