EU Commissioner Avramopoulos: Turkey coming progressively back to normal

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal

European Union Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that Turkey is getting progressively back to normal after last year's failed July 15 coup attempt. "Personally, I'm sure that things will get better and everything will be back to normal, Avramopoulos told a group of Turkish journalists in Brussels on Dec. 6.

Acknowledging that Turkey has been passing through difficult times since the July 15 coup attempt, Avramopoulos praised the Turkish people for defending their democracy. "Although the democratic and constitutional order prevailed, we have to acknowledge that 250 people were killed in order to defend democracy in Turkey," he said. Avramopoulos also said there was a lack of empathy from the EU to understand Turkey's trauma after the coup attempt. "We need to show more understanding about the situation in Turkey." He stressed Turkey's key role for stability in the region and affirmed that Turkey is a key partner for Europe. Regarding ongoing cooperation between Turkey and the EU in security and counterterrorism, Avramopoulos said that Turkey is an essential partner for the EU in the fight against terrorism. "We are on the same side in this fight against terrorism. For the EU, Turkey is a very important partner and stakeholder in our fight against terrorism. I count on cooperation with Turkey."

"Turkey has aspired to come closer to Europe and Europe wants stronger cooperation with Turkey. This dialogue needs to be maintained."

"Europe is committed to work together with Turkey. Europe's door to Turkey is open and we need to work together to make up this time that we lost after the coup attempt."

Nevertheless, Avramopoulos said that the EU has some concerns about the upholding of human rights in Turkey. "The right of individuals to a fair trial and presumption of innocence needs to be protected," he said. "Rule of law is one of the pillars of the EU structure, and this is a basic principle of our cooperation." He also praised the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees, saying: "The EU-Turkey agreement works and saves lives. … Even during the coup period, Turkey fully implemented this agreement, and Turkey proved what it means to cooperate. We need to keep this cooperation alive." Citing that the EU has been allocated 2.9 billion euros to Syrian refugees in Turkey with this agreement, he also said that over 11,400 refugees have been resettled in the EU from Turkey so far as part of the agreement. "A further 50,000 refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon will be resettled in the next two years. I have already received more than 38,000 pledges from 18 countries, and I know that more will follow soon. We also reserved a 500 million euro fund for this resettlement program," he said.

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