Turkey is more than a strategic partner for the EU, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated in an article he wrote for Politico, a prestigious American magazine.
“Economic, political, security and identity-related matters have demonstrated that Turkey is more than a strategic partner for the EU,” Cavusoglu wrote in the article published on Tuesday.
He shared his views on the history of EU-Turkey relations and negotiation chapters.
“Major turning points in recent history -- including the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the Arab Spring, the global financial crisis and the refugee crisis -- have repeatedly proven the strategic importance of the Turkey-EU relationship.”
He said that Turkey-EU relations were overshadowed thrice; in the aftermath of a coup in the 80s, the exclusion of Turkey from the fifth enlargement wave of EU in the 90s, and, most recently, the 2016 coup bid in Turkey.
Underlining that each time the relationship showed resilience against interruptions and found a way out, Cavusoglu said that today Turkey finds itself in a similar unpromising situation.
Cavusoglu expressed his strong belief that once again Turkey will manage to come to agreement with the EU to put Turkey’s EU process back on track.
He asserted three strong reasons to believe so.
- Leaving behind difficult times
First of all, he stressed, Turkey is leaving behind difficult times that followed the 2016 defeated coup which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
“As a founding member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has carried out its post-coup measures in line with the rule of law and international norms."
He said those who criticized Turkey on the measures taken miss the point that this was not a simple political matter but an existential issue for Turkish democracy.
He said the EU membership process is their top agenda.
In this regard, the 100-day action plan announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan includes measures on Chapter 23 and 24 of the accession negotiations which deal with justice, judiciary and fundamental rights.
"Despite all the challenges in striking a balance between freedom and security in one of the world’s most unstable regions, Turkey has been relentlessly seeking to consolidate its democracy, as the Turkish nation deserves the highest standards,” Cavusoglu said.
He also emphasized that Turkey has adopted more than 2,000 pieces of legislation in line with the EU acquis in the last decade -- despite the scourge of terrorism, heavy burdens of irregular migration and a bloody coup attempt.
Underlining that the fundamentals of the post-war order are shaking, Cavusoglu said: “Assertive unilateralism is replacing rule-based multilateralism, and destabilizing developments on a wide range of issues -- including regional politics, trade, environment and security -- are harming the interests of the EU and Turkey alike.”
He stressed the common stance of EU and Turkey on critical matters including the Palestinian issue and Iran nuclear deal.
Cavusoglu also underlined EU’s support for the robust diplomatic efforts of Turkey, particularly for the protection of civilians in Syria.
“In the face of increasing volatilities, Turkey and the EU have much work to do for the security and stability of our Continent and beyond."
- ‘EU needs Turkey’
He stressed Turkey’s meaningful contributions to the EU in the areas of security threats, irregular migration, aging societies, economic dynamism, soft power, social security and energy security.
“By hosting more than 4 million refugees and halting the flow of thousands via the Aegean Sea, Turkey has prevented a major humanitarian crisis in Europe,” he said.
On the fight against terrorism, he praised Turkey’s position as the leading country among coalition members that fight Daesh on the ground.
Cavusoglu called on his colleagues in Brussels and in the EU’s national capitals to return to the spirit of the 1999 Helsinki meeting of the European Council in which Turkey became an official candidate and the EU became a serious anchor.
“We should restart the accession negotiations as they form the backbone of our relationship."
He also urged EU to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel.
“This step would not just contribute to business and employment; it would also further people-to-people dialogue,” he said.
By Zehra Nur Duz