Turkey calls on EU to protect country’s membership prospect
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakci called on the European Union to push forward the country’s candidacy to join the bloc.
“Turkey’s prospect of EU membership must be protected and strengthened,” Kaymakcı said in an interview with Brussels-based Diplomatic World magazine published on Monday.
There is no need to “look for new ideas” to proceed with the country’s accession to the EU, he added.
“We already have the structure: the declaration of March 18 (2016 migrant agreement) with the six dimensions,” he said, listing the accession negotiations as the firm dimension.
“Unfortunately, our EU accession negotiations have been stalled due to political issues, although this is mainly a technical process. As a result, our accession negotiations have not advanced as quickly. as we wanted. But we are still a candidate country for negotiations, “said Kaymakci.
Stating that “the more Turkey thinks that it will become a member of the EU, the faster the reforms will be in Turkey and the better the Turkey-EU relations will be”, he stressed that if “Turkey feels discriminated between candidate countries, or far from the rest of Europe, then we will have less and less trust in each other, and that is not useful. “
The accession process must be revitalized without any prejudice, he stressed.
Citing Turkey-EU high-level dialogue meetings as a second dimension, Kaymakcı said: “We had already established high-level dialogue meetings between relevant Turkish ministers and EU commissioners on economy, energy, transport and foreign policy. has been suspended by the EU. “
He expressed Turkey’s willingness to “hold all these high-level dialogue meetings, new and old, but also to revitalize the mechanisms already established between Turkey and the EU such as the Association Council meetings. and meetings of political directors “.
“Turkey should also be invited to all meetings to which candidate countries are regularly invited (to) such as Gymnich and other meetings,” Kaymakcı added.
As for the third dimension, Kaymakci said that the customs union between Turkey and the EU needs to be updated so that there is a positive agenda.
“Turkey is already implementing the EU’s trade and competition policy in accordance with the Turkey-EU Customs Union. Turkey, in terms of trade, economy and competition, can already be considered a member of the EU. No other candidate country has a customs union (CU) with the EU, “he said.
Stressing that the current customs union needs to be updated, he said the new version may include “services, agriculture, energy and maybe other areas”. He said the economies of Turkey and the EU are strongly linked and interdependent, stressing that the modernization of the customs union “would create a win-win situation for both sides”.
Citing visa liberalization as the fourth dimension, the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister recalled that Turkey and the EU were in agreement on respecting the 72 criteria necessary for the dialogue on visa liberalization.
“The EU and Turkey have agreed that when Turkey fulfills 72 visa liberalization dialogue criteria, Turkish citizens should be able to travel freely – we are not talking here about the free movement of labor within of the Schengen zone. We are working to fill in the rest of the benchmarks, “he said.
In addition, “the fight against terrorism is another important dimension, because there is a problem of mistrust between Turkey and certain Western countries”, he underlined.
“When we see terrorist organizations like the PKK operating in European capitals, carrying out propaganda, recruiting people, practicing money laundering or getting involved in narco-business, we are worried for all of us and for our common future, ”Kaymakcı noted.
He stressed that good cooperation in the fight against terrorism is necessary against “all kinds of terrorist organizations”, including the PKK, al-Qaida, Daesh and the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ).
FETÖ and its US-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 dead and 2,734 injured.
Kaymakci cited the issue of migration management as the final dimension of Turkey-EU relations, recalling the “major challenge of irregular migration”.
Affirming that Turkey currently hosts “4.2 million people, the largest refugee community in the world, including 3.7 million Syrians and the rest of Asians, mainly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, d ‘Iraq, Sri Lanka and Africans, “he continued:” This is a very heavy burden that we cannot shoulder alone and we expect the EU to share it. “
“We had some kind of agreement with the EU regarding migration. As part of the deal, we made two promises: to prevent illegal crossings and to take back people illegally crossed from the Greek islands. We have kept our promises by taking all those returned from Greece until February 2020 and preventing over 2 million additional refugees who might otherwise have made it to other European countries beyond Turkey, ”he said. he added.
Noting how “the migration burden has so far cost Turkey more than 40 billion euros ($ 45 billion),” Kaymakcı said: “We are talking about only 6 billion euros in EU support Syrians in Turkey, and of that 6 billion euros, so far only 4.2 billion euros have been spent. The flow of funds is very slow, very bureaucratic, even if it is the mechanism fastest in the European system. “
He stressed that a new agreement on migration was needed, adding: “Due to the (coronavirus) pandemic, millions of refugees are also expected to head to Turkey and the rest of Europe. We need to manage better. This. Our new agreement on migration must focus on dealing specifically with the situation in northern Syria, which is also the EU’s fourth pledge. “
Asked about the link between sport and diplomacy, Kaymakcı said sport was “of vital importance” in Turkey-EU relations, adding that “some Turks don’t realize how European they are until their team favorite only plays in the European Championships “.
“Turkish teams playing in European leagues in different branches are also important elements of our European identity and our belonging to Europe,” he said.
“To conclude, sport and diplomacy go together. And I think sports diplomacy is quite influential and it really helps a lot to overcome prejudices, to connect people and nations and to create a healthy and stable environment.” , he added.