Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Melvut Cavusoglu has urged the European Union to seek a diplomatic way forward with his country following a year of soaring tensions. President Recep Erdogan had sparked a row with European leaders over controversial gas drilling in the Mediterranean Sea which resulted in Brussels slapping sanctions on Turkish companies last December. At a meeting with the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell in Brussels on Thursday, Mr Cavusoglu set out his government’s desire to normalise relations with the bloc.
During the summit with Europe’s top diplomat, Mr Cavusoglu said: “The time has come to start listening to each other once again.
“2020 was a problematic year in terms of bilateral relations between Turkey and the EU, which resulted in repercussions at December’s EU leaders summit and its joint declaration,” he told reporters.
“Since then, both sides expressed the will in order to create a positive atmosphere for the development of ties between the two sides.”
EU membership has long been seen as a “strategic priority” for Turkey.
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The move to unfreeze EU-Turkey relations was welcomed by Mr Borrell.
Touching upon the gas dispute which had flared up between Ankara and Athens last year, he said the EU strongly supported fresh talks to de-escalate the issue.
He told the Turkish Foreign Minister: “Another good step is the announced resumption of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece.
“We strongly wish to see a sustainable de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean but also in the wider region.”
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“When the question is asked in the right way, about 80 percent of Turks believe that EU membership is useful for Turkey and supports the accession process.
“On the contrary, the EU has excessively politicised our accession negotiations and allowed member states to abuse solidarity with other members against Turkey for their domestic and foreign policy objectives.
“This approach is unfair and unrealistic.”
Turkey has been an applicant to accede to the EU since 1987 but accession negotiations officially stalled in 2016.