Turkey is a unique country that has territories in both Asia and Europe. No matter what is said about it, Turkey is a European country. Southern Cyprus was admitted in the EU despite being in the same region as Turkey, while Turkey's EU accession process is being hampered on the grounds that it is not located in Europe. Leaving geographical positions aside, Turkey has many other ties with Europe.
On Tuesday, this fact was underlined once again in İzmir, one of the most beautiful cities of Turkey. The renovated building of the Greek Consulate in İzmir was inaugurated with the attendance of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
In a speech he made during the ceremony, Çavuşoğlu said that he is very glad to host the Greek foreign minister in İzmir, adding that Turkey and Greece have unbreakable ties in terms of geography and history and represent two great civilizations, underscoring the common traits of the two countries and their people:
"We are sharing the traces and heritage of two great civilizations. As Kotzias always says, God made us neighbors. We have innumerable cultural heritage in both countries. Before coming here, I did some quick research and found that we have 5,000 words in common in our languages. All these aspects converge our people. In our relations with Greece, we see dialogue and cooperation as a way of resolution. We certainly have differences of opinion. We sometimes face stormy days or confront turbulent situations. But in the end, good judgment resolves all since both sides regard dialogue and cooperation as the building blocks of relations."
As Çavuşoğlu expressed, Turkey-Greece relations may undergo turbulent phases, but this does not mean that the problems are insoluble.
The first government of the new presidential system in Turkey formed after the June 24 elections is determined to improve relations and solve existing problems with other countries across the world, especially with European countries. For instance, the problems with the Netherlands are about to be resolved whereas significant developments have been achieved in economic cooperation with France.
Earlier this week, the Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak met with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and State Minister Alan Duncan in London. While developing relations with EU countries, Turkey also attaches importance to bilateral relations and economic cooperation with Britain, a country that is preparing to part ways with the EU. Turkey acts with the principle that cooperation with Europeans does not solely consist of EU countries.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu also met his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Turkey. Arriving in Ankara as part of his working visit, Maas met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his meeting with Çavuşoğlu. After completing his visits in Ankara, Maas headed to Istanbul to attend the opening ceremony of Deutsche Schule Istanbul's (German School of Istanbul) 2018-2019 school year along with Çavuşoğlu to mark the 150th anniversary of the school's foundation. All these developments are positive and promising. The relations with Germany are gradually improving and normalizing. On Sept. 21, Treasury and Finance Ministers of Germany and Turkey, Olaf Scholz and Berat Albayrak respectively, will meet in Berlin.
Also, Erdoğan will pay an official visit to Berlin on Sept. 28 and 29. He will be welcomed in a military ceremony by the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Following these visits, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier will visit Turkey in October with a delegation comprising German businesspeople.
The normalization and improvement of relations between leading countries of Europe and Turkey, an inseparable part of Europe, is a remarkable acquisition for the continent.
Amid all these developments, Turkey does not neglect paying heed to the European Parliament (EP). A group of Turkish deputies, who are co-chairs of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), will attend the EP session to be held in Strasbourg next week and endeavor to turn a new page for dialogue by negotiating around 25 MEPs.
As can be seen, Turkey is doing its full share of work with regard to Europe and the EU. Our European interlocutors will hopefully appreciate these efforts.