Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has underlined the country’s determination to make progress in its EU membership process.
According to Press TV, speaking to members of his ministry on Tuesday, Cavusoglu also said the foreign ministry will be merged with Turkey’s EU Affairs Ministry to follow up the work “under one roof.”
The Turkish foreign minister made the statements a day after President Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as president with new executive powers, keeping Cavusoglu in his position in the cabinet.
In late June, the EU said talks with Turkey to potentially accept Ankara’s accession to the bloc have reached a deadlock over alleged Turkish rights violations and judicial failures, including mass arrests and dismissals and targeting journalists, academics, politicians, rights defenders and social media users.
The EU, however, noted that Ankara remained a “key partner” for the Western bloc on matters such as aiding to block the persisting stream of refugees and asylum seekers into Europe.
EU’s ties with Ankara have steadily deteriorated particularly since an attempted coup in 2016, after which Ankara started a wide-scale crackdown on suspected putschists.
More than 150,000 people have been detained or dismissed over their alleged backing for the putsch. Much to the anger of Ankara, Western countries see the crackdown as an attempt to crush all dissent.
The accession talks were part of a deal struck between Turkey and the EU in March 2016 to limit the flow of refugees to Europe. Under the agreement, Turkey vowed to take back rejected asylum seekers and patrol borders. In return, the EU pledged financial aid, visa-free travel for Turkish nationals and progress in Turkey’s long-stalled EU membership talks.
Turkey has accused the EU of showing “double standards” and criticized the bloc for its failure to help Turkey enough with the 3.5 million Syrian refugees the country is hosting.
Turkey has also rejected any offer of partnership with the EU that falls short of full membership, warning that the current situation gave Turkey no reason to maintain its refugee deal with the bloc.