Keep channels open with Turkey, EU foreign ministers say
by Daily Sabah with AFP
BRATISLAVASep 03, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AFP
Sep 03, 2016 12:00 am
The European Union must keep channels of communication open with Turkey, expressing support after the July 15 failed coup by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the bloc's foreign ministers said Friday.
Turkey is a major EU partner and in March signed a crucial deal with Brussels to curb the flow of migrants into Europe.
But ties have been strained following the attempted July 15 putsch, with Ankara incensed by what it sees as a lack of support from Brussels.
Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, whose country holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, said that when he visited Ankara last week, he got a sense of the "very strong emotion" over the fact "that the EU reacted late."
"It is not normal that after the failed coup... instead of getting closer... there is mutual frustration," Lajcak said as he entered an informal meeting of the 28 EU foreign ministers in Bratislava.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who was also at the meeting, said Turkey was "an essential neighbor."
"[Since] Turkey is in a difficult political situation internally... it is important to keep up talks and stay in contact," he said.
The EU has repeatedly said it backs President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a democratically elected leader, but insisted that he ensure respect for human rights during the post-coup purge in which tens of thousands of people have been sacked or detained. The EU's concern on human rights also criticized by Ankara, which insists rule of law is being followed and that a fair judicial process is taking place after the coup attempt. On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized EU leaders, saying while the putschist soldiers killed more than 240 citizens, no one has opened fired on those that attempted the coup, but rather they are being brought to justice."
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni agreed that Turkey's accession talks should not be suspended, saying it was "not a very good idea."
"We are very clear in our support for the Turkish authorities and in asking the Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law and human rights," he said.
The foreign ministers will on Saturday meet with Turkish EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik in the first talks involving all 28 member states and Ankara since the coup.
Lajcak, who will chair the meeting, said he hoped it will help improve the atmosphere between the two sides.