'Turkey-EU ties in more positive place now'

Turkey, Germany set to revive bilateral ties, and ties with EU improving with constructive steps, says Mevlut Cavusoglu

Burak Bir and Merve Aydogan   | 18.01.2021
'Turkey-EU ties in more positive place now'


Amid a renewed commitment by Turkey and Germany to improve bilateral ties, Turkey's foreign minister said Monday that Turkish-EU relations are also in a more positive place now.

Ties between EU membership candidate Turkey and the bloc are getting better thanks also to constructive steps from Europe, Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his visiting German counterpart Heiko Mass in the capital Ankara.

Last year the Turkish-German trade volume hit $38 billion despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“If I said new chapters in [Turkey’s EU accession] negotiations can be opened immediately, that wouldn’t be true, let's be realistic,” he told reporters.

“Not because we don't want it, rather the EU doesn’t want it, because it has problems with enlargement policies.”

But the visa liberalization the EU promised for Turkey in 2016 could be implemented, Cavusoglu added.

“Consultation talks between Greece and Turkey will start on Jan. 25 thanks to the support of Germany,” he said, reiterating that Turkey is ready to meet with Greece to discuss the issues between the two countries.

Touching on last November’s cease-fire in Upper Karabakh, he said that now there is an important opportunity for a permanent solution in the region following a nearly 30-year political deadlock and 44 days of armed conflict.

"If there was a permanent cease-fire, Turkey and Azerbaijan could take steps to normalize relations with Armenia, if they believe in that," he added.

During the news conference, Cavusoglu said he would meet with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on updating the 2016 migration deal and holding an Eastern Mediterranean conference proposed by Turkey.

Cavusoglu added that during the meeting the two diplomats also discussed the latest developments in Syria as well as Libya.

Deepening ties between Turkey, EU

For his part, Mass stressed that he hopes for a deepening of bilateral relations between Turkey and the EU.

Mass said last year difficult debates over such issues as the Eastern Mediterranean led to unfortunate incidents, as when warships of some allies faced off, adding: "We do not want to see like these incidents anymore."

He said that he is very pleased with Turkey’s intention to start exploratory meetings with Greece, adding that many European governments also welcome this step towards a diplomatic solution for stability in the region

"We would like to make an effort to enhance our bilateral relations and ties between Turkey and the EU towards a forward-looking development path with permanently constructive relations," Mass said.

He added that Europe may not properly appreciate Turkey hosting millions of Syrian refugees, but it has been a success.

After a year of ups and downs in Turkish-EU ties, Turkish leaders have said they hope for progress this year, and expect the bloc to take clear steps towards this end.

Russia’s Navalny, football player Ozil

Mass also called on Russia to "immediately" release Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who was detained late Sunday upon returning to the country.

Navalny, 44, had been in Germany for five months after treatment there for poisoning.

The poison which put Navalny in a coma came from a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok family, which was developed in the Soviet Union and Russia, according to both Germany and France.

Asked about Arsenal Turkish national football player Mesut Ozil moving to Istanbul side Fenerbahce, Mass said that Ozil scored “great success” on the German national team and “I hope he will be successful in Turkey as well.”

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