Turkey's ties with the EU have never been stronger, Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said Thursday.
Speaking at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, the career diplomat said: "We have never been so close in our relationship with the EU during our European adventure.
"Turkey and the EU should maintain their cooperation not only for visa-free travel, but also in every area." Koru was speaking the day after the European Commission recommended that Turkish nationals be allowed to travel in Europe's border-free Schengen zone without having to obtain a visa by the end of June.
The EU and Turkey are also closely cooperating to stem the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe, and the visa liberalization scheme is part of the migration deal agreed to in November. The deal also includes speeding up Turkey's EU accession process. Addressing the same panel discussion, Hansjörg Haber, the head of the EU delegation to Ankara, said Turkey's growing economy made it an attractive investment base for European businesses.
"This makes Turkey a key partner for EU," he said.
Outlining the basis of a strong Turkey-EU relationship, he added: "We have a solid, long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship. We are de facto economically integrated. Turkey has become an investment base for European business within increasing integration into EU." Referring to the five remaining benchmarks Turkey needs to satisfy to fulfill its obligations for visa liberalization, Haber said he was confident of a successful outcome. "I think that if we continue like we did in the last two months we will eventually succeed," he said.