Turkey’s European Union accession process needs to be revived, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday after attending a series of closed-door meetings with European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, Vice President Margaritis Schinas and other officials in Brussels.
In a message he posted on Twitter, Çavuşoğlu highlighted the importance of updating the customs union and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens.
“We need to shore up cooperation in irregular migration and terrorism. We need to wage an all-out war against rising racism, discrimination and Islamophobia in Europe,” the foreign minister added.
Shinas also made a statement after meeting with Çavuşoğlu, saying that it was “time for positive steps.”
Welcomed Minister @MevlutCavusoglu in @EU_Commission today. Constructive discussions about the opportunities and challenges ahead. Migration, security, people to people contacts and @EUErasmusPlus cooperation at the heart of a renewed EU-Turkey agenda. Time for positive steps. pic.twitter.com/vaamzbHG4H— Margaritis Schinas (@MargSchinas) January 21, 2021
Von Der Leyen said she discussed the next steps in EU-Turkey relations with Çavuşoğlu.
“Dialogue is essential, but we also expect credible gestures on the ground,” she said.
Brief exchange with Turkish Foreign Minister @MevlutCavusoglu on next steps in EU-Turkey relations.
Dialogue is essential, but we also expect credible gestures on the ground.
January 21, 2021
Oliver Varhelyi, the Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, said on Twitter that he hopes Turkey and the EU are turning the page in their relationship and will cooperate on issues of strategic interest in a constructive and mutually beneficial way.
Good discussion on #EU #Turkey relations with Foreign Minister @MevlutCavusoglu today. I hope we are turning the page in our relationship and will cooperate together on issues of strategic interest in a constructive and mutually beneficial way. pic.twitter.com/TY70AFG4bi— Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) January 21, 2021
Çavuşoğlu also held a meeting with his Belgian counterpart Sophie Wilmes.
He noted that 2023 will mark the 185th year of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Belgium, adding that Ankara will be pleased to receive the support of Brussels in its relations with the EU.
After a tumultuous year in Turkey-EU relations marked by disputes over drilling rights and maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's leaders have said that they hope for progress in 2021 and expect the bloc to take definitive action to this end.
Relations between the EU and Turkey were strained last year over the Eastern Mediterranean crisis. Turkey and EU member Greece have been at odds on several issues. Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims made by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Instead of opting to solve problems with Ankara through dialogue, Athens has, on several occasions, refused to sit at the negotiation table and opted to rally Brussels to take a tougher stance against Turkey.
During a meeting in Brussels on Dec. 10, EU leaders decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets to sanction over what they described as Ankara's "unilateral actions and provocations" in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In order to solve the dispute in favor of all countries, Turkey last year proposed to hold a conference with the participation of each Mediterranean nation, including the TRNC, yet no concrete answer has been given by the EU to the proposal.
As part of efforts toward a solution, NATO members Turkey and Greece engaged in deconfliction talks last year, designed to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean. The process included the creation of a hotline between Athens and Ankara to facilitate conflict resolution at sea or in the air.