New Turkish EU affairs minister says EU not the only option for Turkey

EPA/KAY NIETFELD

German chancellor Angela Merkel (centre) and the Turkish EU Affairs Minister (right), Ömer Celik in February 2013. Celik was then Minister of Culture.

Omer Celik, Turkey’s new minister for EU affairs said that the relationship between the EU and Turkey is important but is not the “only option” for Ankara.


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Turkey’s new minister for EU affairs, Omer Celik, said that the relation between Ankara and Brussels is important but the EU is not Turkey’s “only option.”

Turkish daily, Hurriyet, reported that Celik, who replaced Volkan Bozkır in the new cabinet, also told reporters that Turkey wanted the EU to drop its “double standards” in the fight against terrorism.

The Turkish government wants to broaden the anti-terrorist law to allow Turkish authorities to prosecute on terrorist charges, MPs, academics and journalists but the European Parliament says that the law is going against the EU democratic values over the rights “to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, of assembly and association in practice.”

Because of the Turkish terrorist law, the EP blocks the no-visa agreement between the EU and Turkey stressing that Turkey doesn’t meet all the benchmark necessary. Because of the Parliament’s refusal, the Turkish officials are now pressuring the EU to accept the Turkish anti-terrorist laws and both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened to cancel the migration agreement between the EU and Turkey, over the issue.

Erdogan said on the ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, on May 24:  “If that [visa exemption] does not happen … then no decision and no law in the framework of the readmission agreement will come out of the parliament of the Turkish Republic.” Moreover, Cavusoglu added that the Turkish government is not “bluffing” or uttering “threats” when it says it could suspend all agreements signed with the EU, including the readmission agreement.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked to comment on Erdogan’s threat and she expressed her confidence that the EU-Turkey readmission deal will not fall apart. “I am not worried (about the readmission agreement)” Merkel told reporters. “Maybe some issues will require more time, but in principle we, for our part, will stick to the agreement,” she added.

When the two sides reached the readmission agreement in March, the EU promised to the Turkish government that “provided that all benchmarks have been met,” the EU will lift the visa restrictions for Turkish citizens by the end of June 2016.

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