Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik has said far-right groups in Europe pose as much a threat for EU member states as terrorist groups like Daesh, urging the bloc to take further steps to prevent the rise of racist stream.
Speaking in a televised interview Nov. 4, Çelik stressed that far-right groups and racist propaganda both constitute an equal threat for similar terrorist cells in EU member states, saying, "Far-right groups and racists are tantamount to Daesh." He went on to note that, in the event that the far right gains momentum in Europe, the risks posed to the bloc will be further heightened, calling the far right "a grave threat to democracy as well as innocent civilians in Europe, Muslims and Turks." He added that the EU would be unable to preserve the same level of unity previously established at the end of World War II, urging the EU to update the structure of its organizations. Stressing the fact that Turkey and the EU have been interconnected in economic terms, Çelik added: "We should support the prosperity, security and stability of the EU as these interests are connected with Turkish interests." He went on to say that Turkey has an obligation to warn the EU as it is putting "the common future" of both the bloc and Turkey in danger.
Turkey's minister to the EU also slammed some countries for insisting Turkey change its counterterrorism law, saying: "Instead of presenting a reasonable offer to Turkey or promoting cooperation, they are making offers that aim to impose an outside agenda on Turkey, under the guise of reform." Çelik also said that some EU member states should act reasonably in the demand placed on Turkey following the July 15 coup attempt carried out by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), adding that it is irrational to demand that Turkey change its counterterrorism law. "The possibility of Turkey letting up its fight against terrorism is not a matter of debate under these circumstances," Çelik said.
Stating that Turkey's fight against terrorism is not only important for Turkey but also for the EU, Çelik added that actions, such as the EU's demands that Turkey revise its counterterrorism law, only thwart Turkey's efforts to conduct reform in a healthy way. "Demands from the EU have reached such a point that they prevent Turkey from effectively performing its regular duties," Çelik said.
The minister for EU affairs brushed off criticism regarding freedom of expression, the judicial system and fundamental rights in Turkey, saying: "We do cower in the face of these issues. Thus, we are saying that the EU should open the 23th and 24th chapters [of Turkey's accession agreement]." He also said that the comments made by other countries regarding ongoing legal cases in Turkey are unethical, calling such comments "baseless."
Commenting on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Serbia and remarks made by the president that indicate that Turkey and Serbia should put historical conflicts aside and look toward the common goals of the future, Çelik said Erdoğan's statements reflect Turkey's positive stance towards the EU, emphasizing that Turkey is willing to promote ties with the EU by leaving former conflicts aside.
Commenting on claims that Turkey's willingness to implement the necessary reforms for accession has weakened, Çelik said that Turkey's decision to bring about reforms is continuing in a decisive manner, noting: "Of course we have things to do, and we have a strong will to progress," he said.
Çelik also commented on Turkey's relations with Germany, saying that Berlin should take steps in accordance with the main principles in the counterterrorism fight. He added "It is clear: We expect Germany to prevent the PKK and FETÖ from carrying out activities in Germany," underlining Ankara's expectations of Berlin.
Çelik went on to say that even though some countries have been acting within the framework of economic interests, Turkey has friendly relations with many countries and continues to work with those countries.