16th Sep 2019

Turkey deplores Europe's 'lack of vision'

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday (13 January) deplored EU leaders' "lack of vision" for blocking Ankara's EU accession talks and described EU visa-free deals for Western Balkan countries as "unacceptable discrimination."

"We expect more determination from the EU. We expect that Europe keeps its promises regarding a full membership of Turkey," Mr Davutoglu said during a joint press conference in Ankara with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, as quoted by AFP.

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Mr Davutoglu met Ms Ashton ahead of next week's nuclear talks between Iran and world powers which will be hosted in Istanbul.

He said the Ashton meeting was positive, but emphasised that his country would "like to see a stronger will on the part of the EU with regard to accession."

The minister said the current stalemate in accession talks shows "a lack of vision on the part of the EU." The impasse is mainly due to Cyprus, an EU member split in half by Turkey in 1974. Germany and France are also opposed to Turkey's full membership, preferring a "privileged partnership" instead.

On visas, the Turkish politician deemed "unacceptable" the fact that the Union has granted visa-free travel to Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Albania in the past two years, while Turkish citizens face "negative discrimination."

For her part, Ms Ashton said she wanted to have "the right strategic dialogue" with Turkey, which she described as "a very, very important partner in our world affairs."

She played down any active role for Turkey in the upcoming Iran talks, however. "I don't underestimate the importance of being the host, but they are the host," Ms Ashton said.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Davutoglu also met with Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator, in preparation for the Istanbul event.

Turkey last year annoyed the six countries handling the Iran talks - France, Germany, the UK, China, Russia and the US - by coming out with alternative proposals on the alleged nuclear weapons programme together with Brazil.

Some EU diplomats and Israel are concerned that Turkey is too close to Tehran and that Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan harbours ambitions to become leader of an Muslim league in a drift away from old Western allies.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

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