“Turkey and the EU are long-term strategic partners”

“Turkey and the EU are long-term strategic partners”

Speaking at a joint press conference following the EU-Turkey Leaders’ Meeting in Bulgaria, President Erdoğan said: “It would be a grave mistake for the EU, which claims to be a global power, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy. Turkey is a key player in the region, an ally of strategic importance, and a dynamic country with a young population.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is in the Bulgarian city of Varna on the occasion of the European Union-Turkey Leaders’ Meeting, came together with President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov at a working dinner at Residence Euxinograd.

Speaking at a joint press conference following the meeting, President Erdoğan expressed his pleasure to be in Varna for the EU-Turkey Leaders’ Meeting. Thanking Prime Minister Boyko for hosting the meeting and for his hospitality, President Erdoğan stated that they held a very fruitful tête-à-tête ahead of the leaders’ meeting.


President Erdoğan, with regard to the Leaders’ Meeting, said that he and the EU leaders came together after a long time and discussed what steps might be taken so as to overcome certain deadlocks, stressing that they hope to have left a difficult period in Turkey-EU relations behind.

President Erdoğan said: “In our previous talks with the EU, we had determined what steps to take for the solution of our common problems and had made mutual commitments. As we all know, Turkey has been duly fulfilling its responsibilities especially with regard to the fight against irregular migration. Currently, Turkey is home to 3.5 million refugees from Syria. This number reaches 4 million when the refugees from Iraq are also added. Certain commitments have been made in the meantime, with the first one being a commitment for the delivery of 3 billion euro. So far, 1.850 billion euros of that amount has been transferred to our relevant units.”


Expressing his expectation for the transfer of the second tranche, too, which is 3 billion euros, President Erdoğan said: “This step will further facilitate the lives of the Syrians in our country. This interest of the EU will both facilitate the lives of refugees and enable us to work faster. As you also know, urgent needs cannot be postponed. There is no room for bureaucratic laziness in humanitarian crises.”

Citing the visa liberalization as yet another issue concerning which Turkey has done its part and now expects a return from to EU, President Erdoğan noted that Turkey has submitted its relevant working paper to the EU Commission in early February and that they had told the EU party to complete their works without delay.


Emphasizing that this shouldn’t be turned into a political issue in a manner that would shake the Turkish citizens’ trust in the EU, President Erdoğan said: “We expressed our expectation for the launch of the works for the updating of Customs Union. We shouldn’t make technical issues such as this an issue of politics. We should make quick headway with regard to chapters that will benefit both of the parties.”

Stating that they also discussed the problems regarding free trade agreements and that they especially pointed to the troubles experienced in land transportation, President Erdoğan said that they expect support from the EU for the solution of these problems.

Underlining that the issue of terror is another topic that is of critical importance for Turkey, President Erdoğan stated that Turkey is currently the target of many terrorist organizations.


President Erdoğan continued: “We continue our fight against terrorist organizations such as DAESH, PKK, PYD and YPG both at home and abroad. We destroyed over 3 thousand DAESH terrorists with Operation Euphrates Shield last year. Likewise, we neutralized nearly 3,800 YPG terrorists with Operation Olive Branch. Our anti-terror operations contribute not only to our own security and the security of Syrians but also that of Europe. We now expect strong support on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism. Turkey is a democratic state of law that respects human rights freedoms. Our nation has already showed this to the entire world by taking to the streets at the expense of their own lives for the protection of democracy on the night of July 15. Our precautions and operations against terror will continue as long as necessary until threats are eliminated.”


Describing Turkey and the EU as long-term strategic partners, President Erdoğan said, “It would be a grave mistake for the EU, which claims to be a global power, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy. Turkey is a key country in the region, an ally of geostrategic importance, and a dynamic country with a young population,” and he drew attention to the common interests between Turkey and the EU in such fields of critical importance as economy, energy, transportation and the fight against migration as well as to Turkey’s historical, cultural and humanitarian ties with Europe.

Underscoring that the EU, which is now taken captive by a mistake made in the past, will not be able to make any contribution to the solution of the Cyprus issue so long as it doesn’t adopt a fair attitude, President Erdoğan said that it is not right to support some EU members’ illegitimate individual acts under the cover of solidarity.


Noting that Turkey has submitted written documents about its views and expectations on these issues to the EU, President Erdoğan said it is now Turkey’s expectation that the EU discuss these documents within itself and that joint works be implemented at a technical level with regard to these issues.

President Erdoğan continued: “Despite the problems experienced in the previous period, we, as Turkey, have always worked to keep the channels of dialogue open. I hope that we together have taken the first step of restoring confidence between the EU and Turkey today, but it is not enough to say that we took this step; it has to be taken in concrete terms. I am once again calling upon the EU countries from Varna. Let’s join forces to establish stability and prosperity in the Balkans, our common geography. Let’s deepen our cooperation on international issues such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Al-Quds, Yemen, the Rohingya and Africa. Let’s build the strong and prosperous Europe which is an island of stability together. We are sincere in these calls of ours today, as we were yesterday.”

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