Turkey’s EU minister calls for leaders-level summit

BRUSSELS: Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik on Wednesday called for a EU-Turkey summit to discuss the current "deadlock" in bilateral relations.

The European Parliament approved last Thursday a non-binding motion to freeze EU-membership talks with Turkey, in response to post-coup investigations and recent developments in the country including measures taken within the framework of the fight against the PKK and FETO terrorist groups.

His remarks came at a news conference in Brussels following meeting with European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, EU Commissioner of Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos and EU security chief Julian King.

Celik said Ankara did not expect the adoption of such a decision at the upcoming EU summit on Dec. 15 and 16, calling for the issue to be brought up at a separate summit between the 28-member bloc and Turkey.

"We have reached a deadlock. How do we break this, and move on from here? This is now an issue that needs to be handled at the leaders' level.

"We need to see clearly how we will make progress, or whether or not there will be a progress," he said, adding Ankara would also be drawing a roadmap regarding the EU-Turkey refugee deal, Customs Union and immigration.

An EU-Turkey deal in March saw the number of people reaching Greek shores from Turkey drop dramatically in return for promises by the EU to accelerate Turkey's membership bid and allow visa-free travel for Turkish nationals.

However, following the European Parliament's non-binding vote last week to freeze accession talks with Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned to open the country's borders and allow refugees into the EU.

Celik said Ankara had not given a deadline for the termination of the refugee deal among other agreements with the EU, but said "everything has a natural lifetime and death."

He also called on the EU to perform its liabilities as per the agreements, and warned against "reducing bilateral relations to just immigration and fight against terrorism."

"This is a much larger agenda. A big picture, and its strategic ties must be underlined at all times," he said.

Turkey and EU had agreed to lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone by October 2016 on the condition that Ankara meets 72 requirements set by the EU.

Ankara has met most of the requirements, but the EU's demands for change in Turkey's anti-terrorism law have led to a deadlock in negotiations.

Hahn's anti-Turkey retweets

Celik also slammed EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn for retweeting tweets calling for a freeze of accession talks with Turkey, adding Hahn was acting more like a "commissioner to avoid enlargement."

"Someone who is in that position, should come up with much more qualified policies and approaches", Celik said.

The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU -- resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July last year. Since then, more than 300 civilians and nearly 800 security personnel have been martyred. Around 8,000 PKK terrorists have been killed or apprehended.

Led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, FETO is accused of orchestrating Turkey's July 15 coup plot as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and the judiciary.

The July 15 defeated coup left 248 martyred and nearly 2,200 wounded.

*Reporting by Hasan Esen; Writing by Ahmet Sait Akcay, Can Erozden

Source: Anadolu Agency