‘EU extended a hand, Turkey responded’ - FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Ankara and the European Union have agreed to work on a roadmap for improving relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Friday.

Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey responded positively to the hand the EU extended, state-run TRT reported.

“In terms of Turkey-EU relations, 2020 was a problematic year,” the minister said, “but since the EU leaders’ summit in December a more positive dialogue has developed between the two parties.”

EU officials showed intention to enhance relations with Turkey during their meetings, Çavuşoğlu said.

“We had the opportunity to hear EU’s expectations from Turkey. President Erdoğan made a promise, and he will fulfil it, but the EU side must also keep its promises,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the EU remained high on Turkey’s agenda and that the country saw its future in Europe, during a videoconference with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Jan. 9.

The presidents of the European Council and European Commission will visit Turkey upon Erdoğan's invitation, Çavuşoğlu told reporters, at a time that is still being worked out.

Çavuşoğlu said Greece’s newly-passed bill to extend its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea didn’t affect Turkey, and the dispute between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus over territorial waters in the Aegean and the Mediterranean. “Turkey’s position hasn’t changed,” said the minister.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday had said the measures would also apply to waters off the eastern coast of Crete, Kathimerini reported.

Addressing the exploratory talks scheduled to start on Jan. 25 with Greece, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was ready for talks without any preconditions.

In his response to a question on an energy conference for Mediterranean countries, Çavuşoğlu said that Turkish Cypriots should also participate in talks.

“The addressee of the Greek Cypriot side on revenue sharing related to the energy resources is the TRNC, the Turkish Cypriot people," Çavuşoğlu said, citing the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus situated in the northern third of the Mediterranean island.

Upon the invitation of the U.N. Secretary General, an unofficial multi-party meeting will be held in New York on the Cyprus issue, Çavuşoğlu said.

“Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides, the United Nations and the three guarantors of the island - Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom- will gather in a meeting in late February or early March,” he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in response to a coup that aimed to unite the island with Greece. A succession of talks to reunite the island has failed over disagreements on core issues, including the presence of thousands of Turkish soldiers in the north.

Turkey has solid expectations regarding anti-terrorism and visa liberalisation from the EU, the minister added in the briefing.

In his two-day visit, Çavuşoğlu met a number of top EU officials, including Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission and Joseph Borrell, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs.