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EU Minister Çelik: We will invite EU commissioners to discuss fate of Turkey-EU deal

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
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Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik Wednesday said EU commissioners will be invited to Turkey to discuss the fate of the Turkey-EU deal. Last March, Turkey agreed to stop illegal migrants crossing into Greece in exchange for financial aid for the refugees in its care, visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to Europe, and accelerated EU membership talks. In return, the EU also demanded that Turkey change its anti-terrorism laws as part of the criteria for visa liberalization. Turkey, however, insisted that this change was not possible under current conditions. Moreover, Turkish officials previously declared they would cancel the EU-Turkey deal if the EU failed to implement visa-free travel for Turks by the end of 2016.

Discussing the issue, EU Minister Çelik said they would invite first vice president of the European Commission Franz Timmermans and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopolus to Turkey in the coming day to discuss the fate of the EU-Turkey deal.

"We will invite EU commissioners and discuss visa liberalization and other issues. After that we will decide the fate of the deal," Minister Çelik said.

Reiterating his previous calls to hold a Turkish-EU summit to discuss the future of relations, Minister Çelik said they were currently attempting to find a suitable date for the summit.

The EU has been criticized by Turkey for making heavy weather of the visa liberalization process. Ankara argues that despite the threats posed to Turkey's national security by several terror groups, Brussels' insistence on revising Turkey's terror laws was politically motivated.

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, European Council President Donald Tusk has suggested that the Turkey-EU summit might take place in March 2017. The EU officials have however acknowledged that Turkey has been fulfilling its obligations in the refugee deal struck with the EU in March. Refugee flows from Turkey have been reduced to approximately 80 per day.

Meanwhile, British Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alan Duncan said at a joint press conference with Çelik prior to their bilateral meeting that Turkish-British relations are at "a good level." Duncan expressed his country's willingness to help Turkey's cause in its fight against terrorism.

He said that Britain condemns any kind of terror from the PKK, Daesh and other terrorist groups.

Stressing that the Brexit process will not affect Britain's relations with Ankara, Duncan said that Britain will always support Turkey's fight in tackling the several threats posed against it.

Touching on negotiations between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides, Duncan said that Britain, as the guarantor country, will do its best to help both sides reach a solution.

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