Türkiye and the European Union have agreed to work on visa facilitation for Turkish businessmen and students, and on upgrading the customs union, the Turkish foreign minister has said, citing the mutual understanding between Ankara and Brussels to further develop ties.
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan hosted EU’s commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi in Ankara on Sept. 5 who has become the highest ranking EU official visiting the Turkish capital following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement for the revival of ties between the two sides. Following the talks, the two men held a joint press conference.
“The EU cannot be a global power without Türkiye,”Fidan said at the beginning of the press conference, citing the importance of the cooperation between the two sides on regional and global affairs.
“We expect the EU demonstrates the necessary will and courage for further developing our ties,” he stated. On a question, he reiterated Ankara’s unchanged perspective to join the EU which was strongly expressed by President Erdoğan following the elections in Türkiye.
“There were some deficiencies in our contacts with the EU on certain issues. We have discussed about our joint works to compensate them. We have agreed on a frame about the steps to be taken in the short and medium term,” Fidan announced.
Visa liberalization is among the Turkish demands but for now the understanding is to launch works on facilitating the visa procedures for Turkish businessmen and students, Fidan suggested. He also informed that technical teams will start to work on upgrading the customs union starting from next week.
“We will continue our positive agenda and we will work for bigger objectives. There are so many issues to work on, therefore we will immediately roll up our sleeves,” added the minister.
For his part, Varhelyi thanked Türkiye for hosting over 4 million Syrian refugees and underlined that Brussels will continue to provide assistance to Türkiye. A document to be signed during his trip covers 781 million euro assistance from EU to Türkiye to be spent for the refugees, Varhelyi announced, informing that Brussels’ efforts to Türkiye for the reconstruction of the earthquake-hit regions will also continue in the coming period.
The commissioner also recalled that the EU Council has instructed the commission to prepare a report on the future of the ties with Türkiye on a positive basis, stressing that the outcome of this report will deliver its concrete results starting from the end of this year.
On a question about the future membership of Türkiye, the commissioner recalled that the membership negotiations have been frozen since 2018 and there are some criteria to revive them. “These are the required reforms on democracy and rule of law. A convincing road map to be prepared on these criteria can trigger new discussions on this matter,” he said.