Foreign ministers say EU, Turkey must keep channels open

Ankara has been incensed by what it sees as a lack of support from Brussels following failed putsch. he European Union must keep channels of communication open with Turkey, expressing support after July’s failed coup but also insisting Ankara respects human rights, the bloc’s foreign ministers said Friday, as Middle East Online reported.

Turkey is a major EU partner and in March signed a crucial deal with Brussels to curb the flow of migrants into Europe.

But ties have been strained following the attempted July 15 putsch, with Ankara incensed by what it sees as a lack of support from Brussels as well as by European criticism of its massive post-coup crackdown.

Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, whose country holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, said that when he visited Ankara last week, he got a sense of the “very strong emotion” over the fact “that the EU reacted late.”

“It is not normal that after the failed coup… instead of getting closer… there is mutual frustration,” Lajcak said as he entered an informal meeting of the 28 EU foreign ministers in Bratislava.

Asked whether concerns over human rights meant Brussels should suspend Turkey’s EU accession talks, which under the March accord should be sped up, Lajcak said: “I am personally not in favour of interrupting accession talks.”

The talks actually gave the EU some leverage with Turkey, he said.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who was also at the meeting, said Turkey was “an essential neighbour”.

“(Since) Turkey is in a difficult political situation internally… it is important to keep up talks and stay in contact,” he said.

The EU has repeatedly said it backs President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a democratically-elected leader, but insisted that he ensure respect for human rights during the post-coup purge in which tens of thousands of people have been sacked or detained.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni agreed that Turkey’s accession talks should not be suspended, saying it was “not a very good idea”.

“We are very clear in our support for the Turkish authorities and in asking the Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law and human rights,” he said.

The foreign ministers will on Saturday meet with Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik in the first talks involving all 28 member states and Ankara since the coup.

Lajcak, who will chair the meeting, said he hoped it will help improve the atmosphere between the two sides.

The author: Michel THEYS

Michel Theys, a Belgian native, began his career as a civil servant, serving the public for several decades. After retirement, he shifted gears to follow his passion for journalism. With a background in public administration, Theys brought a unique perspective to his reporting. His insightful articles, covering a wide array of topics, swiftly gained recognition. Today, Michel Theys is a respected journalist known for his balanced and thoughtful reporting in the Belgian media landscape.

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