Turkey is the strongest ally both in terms of Europe's and the larger region's security, and Europe will realize this, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
In a guest op-ed in the French Le Monde daily published yesterday, "Turkey, indispensable ally for the security of Europe, " Çavuşoğlu said that it is Ankara's priority to remove all sorts of terrorist elements since Turkey, which shares borders with Europe, is NATO's border with the Middle East.
"Operation Olive Branch, which is being carried out against the PKK, its Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) and its partner in fate Daesh, will continue until we achieve this goal," Çavuşoğlu wrote, referring to Turkey's counterterrorism operation in Afrin in northwestern Syria.
"Today, the counter-Turkey rhetoric seen in the West is a partial reflection of the rise of hatred of Islam and xenophobia fueled by Western extremists using the flow of migration as a tool," he said.
"Our allies will realize that in terms of Europe's and regional security, Turkey is the strongest ally and it will continue to be so."
Attacks on Turkish buildings in Europe and anti-Turkish demonstrations intensified after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove the YPG from Afrin.
In relation to the upcoming Turkey-EU summit in Varna, Bulgaria, Çavuşoğlu yesterday at a press conference in Ankara said: "We do not have expectations from the EU about membership," and the reason for this is not Turkey, but the stance presented by the EU.
He said that Ankara's expectation from the EU is the implementation of the decisions that have been made, but the EU is indecisive about what it does and wants.
The EU gave Ankara a list of 72 criteria to fulfill for visa-free travel for Turkish nationals after the two sides signed an agreement to stop irregular migrants from crossing to Greece from Turkey in March 2016.
The 28 EU member states and European Parliament must also approve the visa scheme. Aside from visa liberalization, the EU pledged to provide financial aid for refugees in Turkey and to accelerate EU membership talks.
The EU has said that Ankara has completed 69 of the listed criteria, but needs to reform its terrorism laws. Çavuşoğlu also said that the EU needs to revise all of its policies as there has been rising problems between member countries as well, such as concerning economic integration.
He said there are some issues on which joint steps might be taken such as visa liberalization. "We have conveyed our request and have been waiting for a response," Çavuşoğlu said, hinting that there might be some developments regarding visa liberalization at the upcoming summit.
He said that the upgrading of the customs union with the EU will also be on the agenda at the summit and that upgrading it would benefit all. "This should not be used as political leverage." He said that by determining a road map focusing on the issues on which some steps that can be taken, "we might contribute to the building of relations on a more solid ground."
Meanwhile, Ankara's ambassador to France called on the EU yesterday to continue cooperation with Turkey for the sake of the union.
"Our European friends do not understand us all the time. The EU has no other choice than including Turkey in the EU if it wants to have a say in the international community and come to its senses," Ismail Hakkı Musa said on a panel held in Paris on Turkish-EU relations, Turkey-European Union: Which Solidarity?
Musa said Turkey was at the heart of some European countries' elections. He criticized some European politicians for using Turkey as a political tool. "The EU has made some mistakes, and it did not fulfill some of its pledges," he said. Musa asserted that the EU cannot resolve its issues by blocking Turkey and urged the bloc to continue its cooperation with Ankara in areas such as economy, counterterrorism and the refugee crisis.
The panel, organized by the Europe Institute of Research and Communication, was hosted by French Senator Josiane Costes.