Turkish-Austrian ties move forward with new perspective

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Turkey-Austria relations will move forward with a new perspective to overcome the recent tension between the two countries, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday.

Visiting his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl in Vienna, Çavuşoğlu stated on his Twitter account that the two had productive negotiations and decided to increase the level of relations and cooperation to overcome the problems.

Ties between the two countries soured in 2016 due to Austrian restrictions on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in Turkey. The campaign targeted Turkish nationals living in Austria. Ankara has also sharply criticized Vienna for what it considers illiberal integration policies as well as its populist rhetoric and failure to take a strong stance against growing racism and Islamophobia.

Austrian Foreign Ministry released a policy document in March 2017, saying that Austria believes that Turkey should never become part of the European Union. "Turkey's accession to the EU is therefore unthinkable," the Austrian foreign ministry said in a policy paper drafted in preparation for Austria's EU chairmanship in the second half of 2018, obtained by dpa.

Known for his staunch opposition to Turkey, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also said in late December the EU should end membership negotiations with Ankara, saying the country has "no place in Europe." Still, on Monday, Turkey's ambassador to Austria said Ankara and Vienna turned "a new page" in relations when their foreign ministers met in Istanbul in January.

"We now prefer to talk directly with each other rather than talking to others," Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarıkçı told Anadolu Agency (AA) in an interview. "Never in history have we rejected a friendly hand offered to us." Çavuşoğlu and his Austrian counterpart met on Jan. 25 after months of tension between the two countries.

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