Turkish FM notes 'normalization' of relations with EU amid rift with US

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have begun normalizing, and Ankara is determined to step up the visa liberalization dialogue with the bloc, Turkish foreign minister said amid recently exacerbated Ankara-Washington tensions
Thursday, 16 August 2018 22:29

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said talks with the EU over visa-free travel for Turkish nationals will be accelerated in the coming period, in a sign of improvement in Ankara-Brussels dialogue amid the former’s economic difficulties. 

"Our relations with the European Union have started normalizing on a firmer basis. We intend to continue negotiations on visa liberalization with the European Union. In the coming days, a delegation from the Turkish Foreign Ministry will meet with European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. We intend to intensify contacts with the European Union on visa liberalization," Çavuşoğlu said.

The statement comes against the backdrop of what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described as an economic war, sparked by Washington’s doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the country.

Turkey and European countries have also in recent days shown appetite to repair their ties.

Erdoğan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call Thursday to foster trade ties, a Turkish presidential source said.

Albayrak on Thursday spoke with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz on the phone, where the two ministers agreed to "take steps in order to reinforce economic cooperation," Albayrak's office said. 

There have also been in the last days unexpected moves in key legal cases that have been bones of contention with Brussels, although Ankara always insists the judiciary is independent of politics.

An Istanbul court allowed the release of Amnesty International's Turkey chair Taner Kılıç Wednesday, who spent more than a year in jail over alleged links to the 2016 military coup attempt.

And the day earlier, two Greek soldiers held by Turkey since March for illegally crossing the border were also freed.

In March 2016, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a deal, under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory in exchange for Syrian refugees accommodated in Turkey, on a one-for-one basis. The European Union, in turn, vowed to accelerate Turkey's EU accession bid, introduce a visa-free system, as well as provide financial aid to Turkey to cover the costs of migrant reception.