Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says each political obstacle set by the economic bloc against Ankara prevents political stability of European Union, at a joint press conference with top EU officials.
Turkey expects full EU membership and it “shouldn’t be faced with political obstacles,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.
Excluding Turkey in the EU accession process or denying its candidacy is of “no use”, Cavusoglu said during a joint press conference with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and EU Neighbourhood Policy Minister Johannes Hahn in the capital Ankara.
Cavusoglu said each political obstacle set by the bloc against Turkey prevents the growth, prosperity and political stability of the EU.
Mogherini commended Turkey on the substantial changes it has made in its progress towards moving to the EU.
“Lots of work still needs to be done between EU and Turkey in trade and we will work closely with Turkey in foreign policy issues like Syria, Iran and other areas of common interest.”
TRT World‘s Hasan Abdullah reports from Ankara.
Hahn said the EU’s relationship with Turkey is very strong and “we consider them an extremely important neighbour.”
“There are some areas EU and Turkey need to address where we differ in our views. But as partners and friends, we should not shy away and discuss these issues.”
He added the EU “have a great interest in a prosperous Turkey as this country is our most powerful trade partner. We will work hard to restore confidence in Turkey’s economy as it serves in our interest.”
Cavusoglu emphasised that the March 18, 2016 refugee deal must be fully implemented, adding that the EU should also carry out some of its obligations as part of the deal.
Cavusoglu said Turkey has fulfilled 72 criteria, set forth by the EU, and the remaining six will be fulfilled soon to enable Turkish citizens to travel to Schengen countries visa-free.
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of at least 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The March 18 deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.
In a joint statement dated November 29, 2015, the EU and Turkey had confirmed their commitment to re-energise the accession process.
Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community (a precursor to the EU) in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005.
However, almost a year later, on November 24, the European Parliament approved a non-binding motion to freeze EU-membership talks with Turkey, in response to post-coup investigations.
“More concrete support” required
Recalling terrorist attacks both in Turkey and in the EU countries in recent years, Cavusoglu said close cooperation against foreign terrorist fighters and elements feeding terrorism in the region would be for the benefit of both the EU and Turkey.
“We expect more concrete support from the EU member states in our counter-terrorism efforts,” he said.
“The PKK is a terrorist organisation and should continue to be on the list of terrorists,” Cavusoglu said, warning that the PKK’s presence and allowing its symbols in the EU institutions and EU member states “is not something we can accept.”
Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled to keep the PKK on EU’s terror list.
The PKK had applied to the court in May 2014 in order to be relieved of the restrictions placed upon it due to the terror attacks it had carried out.
It has been on the EU terror list since 2002.