The most recent stop of the Turkey-European Union Civil Society Meetings organized by EU Affairs Ministry in European capitals was in Paris. Representatives from Turkish media, academia and civil society and their French counterparts agreed that the EU, a "union of weaknesses," needs a "new and fresh" agenda to focus on solutions and reforms that will eliminate weaknesses rather than scratching them, and to resolve mutual weaknesses.
We told our French counterparts that the proposal of a privileged partnership for Turkey has created serious disappointment in Turkish society. They also called for further civil society cooperation and exchange of ideas in order to eliminate hate speech and populist approaches that have emerged in recent elections across Europe. Another highlight was the fact that global issues have gradually increased pressure and have constrained EU institutions and leaders from Europe's priority issues and headings.
The future of the euro, Brexit and the new government established in Austria pose significant risks to the ideal of a united Europe as well as the core EU values. Our counterparts noted that French President Emmanuel Macron has been working for a new Europe in which he sees Turkey and the U.K. in the second ring. Therefore, as one of the reasons of critical importance in the blockage of negotiations between Turkey and the EU, they pointed to the EU's inability to identify and find its new position.
At this point, particularly through mutual dialogue and civil society projects, relations between Turkey and the EU need to be reformatted. The distinguished representatives from Turkey reminded their French counterparts that Europe and EU radicals are risking their future as slaves to the fears fed and exploited by right-wing extremists. Our counterparts said there has been a lack of dialogue, and that on behalf of the commitment to democratic reforms and rule of law, they expect to receive more signals from Turkey.
The Sabah daily's Ankara correspondent, Okan Müderrisoğlu, made some points on the fact that the EU has a clear roadmap to fulfill its obligations and that it has to open the chapters on justice, freedom and security as soon as possible, while Daily Sabah Editorial Coordinator Meryem İlayda Atlas noted that the EU has made a mistake in the "risk society" format through "collective hypocrisy," and A Haber Broadcast Coordinator Orhan Sali presented his opinions on how living equally and differently together has been forgotten and that those who surrender to fear will lose. In the name of being aware of the richness of civilization of each other, important points are emerging from the civil society initiative of the EU Affairs Ministry. I would like to congratulate the EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik, Undersecretary Selim Yenel and Deputy Undersecretary Sefer Yılmaz.
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