Turkish foreign minister has pointed out lack of mutual trust in Turkey-EU ties, saying the bloc does not "fully understand" the challenges the country has been facing.
In an interview with the Eastwest magazine published on its website on Dec. 30, 2017, Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “The EU’s lack of solidarity with the Turkish people following last year’s failed coup gave us the impression that the EU does not really fully understand the magnitude and severity of the challenges Turkey has been facing.
"We feel that there are double standards in the EU’s criticism of Turkey, in particular when it comes to our fight against terrorism.”
Cavusoglu said Turkey remains determined to finalize the EU accession process and expects the bloc to reciprocate these efforts.
“Turkey-EU relations have always had ups and downs. What must be clear is that Turkey has always viewed its relationship with the EU and its accession process as a strategic priority for its foreign policy,” he said.
He said Turkey had made sincere efforts over the years to obtain full membership in the EU.
The foreign minister also said that in order to “re-establish a trusting relationship”, the EU should “honor its promises” on major issues such as the modernization of the customs union, visa liberalization and the full disbursement of financial help promised to cover the cost of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“The EU should also stop politicizing the accession negotiations which should be purely technical, and lift political and artificial obstacles that have appeared for certain chapters,” he said.
“We are looking forward to a normalized working relation with the EU in the period ahead,” he added.
Turkey had applied for the EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration in the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.
To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
As of May 2016, 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016, the member states said no new chapters will be opened.
Cooperation with Russia, Iran
About Ankara’s partnership with Russia and Iran to resolve the Syria conflict, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey has a “genuine desire to see a stable, prosperous and democratic Syria in the nearest possible future”.
“One [Syria] with its political unity and territorial integrity intact, and governed in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of its people,” he said.
“The collective goal of the three Astana guarantors is to ensure a reduction of violence on the ground and the introduction of confidence-building measures between the conflicting parties as a way of preparing the ground for a proposal that might lead to a political solution,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu said positive results of the Astana talks are “widely acknowledged”.
“A major achievement of this trilateral cooperation is the establishment of de-escalation zones which have significantly reduced violence on the ground,” he said.
He said Turkey plans to continue its cooperation with Russia and Iran in order to accelerate the Geneva process and reach a permanent political solution to the Syrian conflict.
Turkey in 10 years
Çavuşoğlu said Turkey is among the rising powers of the 21st century.
“Our foreign policy is built on the main principle of 'peace at home, peace in the world',” he said.
He said Turkey adopts an enterprising and humanitarian approach in conducting its foreign policy.
“Turkey is taking initiatives on regional and international issues to promote peaceful resolution of conflicts, especially through mediation,” he said.
He said Turkey would continue to be a “strong and reliable” partner for its friends.
“But primarily, we will continue to strengthen and enhance the fundamental tenets of our democratic, secular and social republic governed by the rule of law.
“It is no coincidence then that Turkey should do so well in projections about the future,” he said.