Brussels, Belgium – Turkey sees a European Union summit this week as an opportunity to reset relations between them, but the bloc must produce specific proposals and a timetable to work on a roadmap together, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said.
Tensions flared between Turkey and EU member Greece after Turkey sent a seismic vessel to explore for hydrocarbons in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean last month and the October 1-2 summit aims to calm the bitter dispute.
A Turkish and a Greek warship collided during the standoff and Turkey has since recalled the Oruc Reis vessel to allow for diplomacy. Turkey and Greece have agreed to resume talks over their contested maritime claims.
However, the row has also brought to a head strains between EU candidate Turkey and the bloc over issues such as migration, Turkey’s involvement in Syria and Libya and what the EU says is growing influence under Turkey.
“I believe the EU summit has a chance to have a reset in Turkey-EU relations. It is an important opportunity. We can have a reset there. And I see this willingness on the part of many EU member countries,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
“They also have to understand that they cannot expect Turkey to do everything,” Kalin said in an interview. “It must be a mutual process. If Turkey is expected to do X, Y, Z, EU countries must fulfil their responsibilities as well.”
Senior EU diplomats and officials have said the bloc is unlikely to follow through on a threat to impose sanctions on Turkey after Turkey’s agreement last week to resume exploratory talks with Greece, which were halted in 2016.
Work was continuing on deciding a date for the resumption of talks, Kalin said, adding the talks would continue where they left off and focus not just on issues of continental shelves and maritime limits, but on islands and air space.
He said he believed the talks would have a positive impact and would also focus on political consultation and military-to-military talks. “In all of these three tracks we believe we will make some good progress very soon,” he said.
Turkey got involved in a war of words with France during the east Mediterranean dispute and Erdogan last week held his first talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in months in a bid to ease the tensions.
Kalin said there was a positive atmosphere in those talks with the two leaders agreeing to try and find ways to minimise their differences.
“I believe all these things will produce a more positive agenda and a more positive atmosphere between Turkey and France,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emanuel Macron are performed in a positive atmosphere between the recent a telephone interview, noting that they’d be working with other countries in Libya as well as in France.
Kalin said: “they had a good exchange at the last meeting. The atmosphere was quite positive. ’ Instead of arguing over our differences, let’s reduce our differences and find a common way, ‘ they agreed. We believe this is a good start. They’ve met with our counterparts and assigned them to work on it. So from now on, there’s going to be some traffic. Our foreign minister will visit his counterpart and meet with them,” he said.
Erdogan and Macron held a phone call last week to discuss regional issues after a long break.
“This has given diplomacy a chance, and now diplomatic efforts have intensified, ” he said, noting that they believe there is a chance for the political process to move forward in Libya, and that the absence of a serious conflict over the past 2-3 months is a good development. This is fine. We fully support this; we believe that we can work with France and other countries on all these issues,” he said.
“All the signals I’m getting at the moment are that France will support the establishment of a positive agenda with Turkey at the EU summit,” he said.
Kalin noted that Turkey’s assistance to the government in Tripoli has laid the groundwork for the progress of diplomacy.
“We support the political process under the UN. Khaled al Mishri holds a series of talks with Aguila Saleh. There’s nothing wrong about it. We support that. Serrac supports this, ” Kalin said” :
“We hope that Serrac remains part of the political process. He is an important figure in Libyan politics. Hafter continues to violate international law and damages the Libyan economy with this oil blockade. We hope it will be resolved soon.”
Kalin stressed that they are discussing the issue of Libya with Russia, and that the Russians should also be on the table to lower blood pressure.
“We support the idea of demilitarizing Sirte and Cufra, but we think Hafter should also withdraw from here, ” he said, noting that there are no final plans with the Russians yet. Whenever there was talk of a ceasefire, it came with another attack,” he said.
Kalin said: “We have an agreement on military training and cooperation with Libya on whether Turkish troops will serve there in the event of a demilitarized zone. If necessary and we are invited by the Libyan government, Turkish commanders, trainers and advisers will of course be there,” he said.