Turkey welcomes the rhetoric in the memorandum adopted by EU leaders at a virtual summit and sincerely wishes to develop its relations with the bloc on the basis of cooperation and mutual benefit, the country’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
The ministry said in a statement that although the evaluation section of the report titled “The status of political, economic and trade relations between Turkey and the EU” stressed the need for a positive agenda, “it was seen that it was written under the influence of the narrow-minded claims of several member states and with a one-way view of Turkey-EU relations.”
“At the same time, we welcome the efforts made by the report to advance Turkey-EU relations on the basis of a positive agenda and the rhetoric that is tried to be reflected in the summit statement,” it said.
Recalling that it is the wish of Turkey to develop relations with the EU on the basis of mutual benefit, the ministry said: “In this context, it is our justified expectation that concrete and constructive steps will be taken by the EU on the basis of a positive agenda.”
“We hope that linking these steps to conditions in the summit statement, addressing only certain areas and postponing them to June will not lead to the loss of the positive momentum that has been captured.”
“Although we are ready to work with the EU to continue implementation of the March 18 agreement with all elements, including cooperation on migration, and have presented concrete proposals on this issue, the fact that the EU side has to be selective and give vague statements, ignoring the comprehensive content of the agreement, remain weak steps for the EU, which we want to turn into a global actor,” said the statement.
“Beyond dialogue in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights, we believe it is necessary to work on a chapter-by-chapter basis in accession negotiations. In this context, we expect the EU to open chapters 23 and 24 in accordance with the new enlargement strategy framework.”
Mentioning Turkey’s efforts to resolve regional crises in, for example, Libya, Syria and the South Caucasus, the ministry said mutual cooperation between Turkey and the EU would benefit the strengthening of regional peace and stability and the promotion of both sides’ common interests.
“In this regard, we are committed to immediately starting top-level dialogue that serves our common interests in all areas, including the economy, energy, transport, anti-terrorism, migration management and visa liberalization, not just regional and health-related issues.”
The ministry said “it is against international law for the EU, which is not capable of preventing the maximalist attitude of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo and its unilateral provocative activities in the spirit of EU solidarity, to describe the drilling activities of both our country and the TRNC in the Eastern Mediterranean as illegal.”
Mentioning that the EU does not have any authority to do so, it said “statements on Cyprus are detached from reality aimed at defending the interests of the Greek Cypriot side and do not contribute to a possible compromise.”
“The fact that the declaration, again, does not refer to the Turkish Cypriots and their legitimate rights and interests shows that the EU’s biased attitude towards Cyprus continues.”
“Positive steps that the EU will take in the direction of our common interests will be welcomed by candidate Turkey with positive steps,” it concluded.
The EU leaders met virtually to discuss foreign policy issues, including Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The council adopted a conclusion saying that the EU is ready to engage with Turkey in a “phased, proportionate, reversible manner” to enhance cooperation in areas of common interest.
It also said that the EU is ready “to take further decisions at the European Council meeting in June,” mentioning that the de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, resumption of talks between Turkey and Greece, and upcoming talks on Cyprus under the auspices of the UN were welcomed.
The leaders said the EU is ready to launch “high-level dialogue with Turkey on issues of mutual concern” such as counter-terrorism, public health and climate.
The representatives also urged the commission to look for ways to improve people-to-people contact and mobility with Turkey.
The EU hailed Turkey for hosting nearly four million Syrian refugees, saying EU assistance to the host communities will continue.
“We invite the commission to present a proposal to the Council for the continuation of financing of Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and other parts of the region.”
The read-out said cooperation with Turkey on migration should be strengthened in areas such as “border protection, combating illegal migration, as well as the return of irregular migrants.”
According to the document, the 27-member bloc is committed to resolving the Cyprus dispute in accordance with the related UN Security Council resolutions, and the EU is looking forward to the resumption of talks under the auspices of the UN, in which the bloc will participate as an observer.
The bloc will play an active role in the negotiations and will appoint a representative to the UN Good Office Mission, it said.
“We will continue to closely monitor developments and seek a coordinated approach with partners. The European Council will revert to this matter at its meeting in June,” the read-out said.
Separately, it said the “rule of law and fundamental rights remain a key concern. Dialogue on such issues remains an integral part of the EU-Turkey relationship.”