No question of breaking EU ties, says Turkish minister

The EU's concerns should not stop good relations and ultimately Turkey's membership of the EU says Omer Celik.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Turkey's Minister of EU Affairs Omer Celik, centre, is greeted as he arrives for a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, May10, 2017.

It is out of the question for Turkey to break off relations with the EU and it will press ahead with its membership bid, Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said Wednesday.

Celik insisted that the EU's past criticisms of Turkey should not be allowed stand in the way of improved relations and ultimately membership of the EU.

"We want to move forward within the context of full membership. There is no question of breaking off relations with the EU," Celik said after talks with EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini in Brussels.

"The picture that emerges after the referendum shows the democratic power of Turkey. This needs to be taken account of well," he said in remarks made in Brussels and broadcast on Turkish television.

The minister repeated that Turkey faced a major terrorist threat but had got through the coup attempt with "a democratic self-confidence."

Urging Brussels to open new chapters in Ankara's long-stalled accession talks, Celik said: "We need to come to an era where relations are tighter."

A spokeswoman for Mogherini said the two had "a frank, positive and constructive discussion and talked about the present and future perspective for EU-Turkey relations."

She gave no further details.

Accession talks not halted

Mogherini said last month the accession talks had not been halted – despite calls by some EU member states – but progress depended on Ankara meeting the rights and democratic norms expected of all candidate countries.

Celik is due to meet European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos later Wednesday.

In March last year, the EU signed an accord with Turkey to speed up the accession talks, along with visa liberalisation and billions in aid in return for Ankara halting a flood of migrants, mostly from Syria and Iraq, coming to Europe.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top Turkish officials have repeatedly warned that they will abandon accession negotiations because of a lack of progress, for which they blame the EU.

TRTWorld and agencies