Top EU diplomats agree to keep communication channels open with Turkey

MEHMET SOLMAZ
BRUSSELS
Published

Foreign ministers from the European Union have gathered in Brussels to reach a common stance on their harsh criticisms toward Turkey's counterterrorism operations and other domestic issues.

Following the day-long meeting, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told members of the press that the bloc has a united position regarding Turkey and that they have decided to keep the communication channels open at all levels "to make sure we listen to each other." She said foreign ministers discussed possible scenarios for Turkey but reached "no conclusion".

Prior to the meeting, Mogherini said she and the ministers would strive for "a common, united position on developments in Turkey." While certain European countries raise their voices to the bloc in an attempt to freeze Turkey's accession negotiations, Mogherini said the future of Turkey's membership bid would not be discussed in the meeting.

Mogherini went on to say that top EU diplomats would be discussing their disturbance with the "arrest of CHP leaders," mixing up the pro-PKK People's Democratic Party (HDP) with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson spoke to members of the press on his arrival to the meeting and said that "it is very important that we should not push Turkey into a corner, we should not overreact in a way that I think is against our collective interest to what is going on in Turkey. Remember they have had a very difficult situation there, a very serious attempted coup."

While the EU foreign ministers were in their meeting, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş also expressed his views on the EU's recent progress report on Turkey with similar terms Johnson had used, saying that "The aim of the report is to push Turkey into a corner." Kurtulmuş added that European Parliament President Martin Schulz's threat of imposing economic sanctions on Turkey was "not understandable."

Furthermore, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier -- who was also present during the meeting -- is scheduled to visit Turkey tomorrow amid tense relations between the two countries. Ties between Germany and Turkey have been strained in recent months, largely due to what Ankara says is Berlin's reluctance to take strong action against terrorist groups. Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives agreed on Monday to back Social Democrat Steinmeier as Germany's next president, succeeding Joachim Gauck, whose five-year term ends in February.

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