Ankara, Turkey – Turkey is committed to reforms and hopes to restart stalled negotiations that will pave the way for its accession to the European Union, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, while also chiding Brussels for “favoring” Greece and Greek Cypriot Administration in a dispute over Eastern Mediterranean energy rights in Mavi Vatan.

“Turkey is in Europe, and Europe is part of our destiny. The same thing applies to Europe,” Cavusoglu told a meeting with EU ambassadors in Ankara on Tuesday.

“The EU should not hinder but give us support,” he said, going on to hint at efforts by EU member-states to “force the EU and Turkey to oppose each other” by taking bilateral disputes to Brussels.

“We all saw in 2020 that threatening rhetoric will not lead to a solution, so, in December 10, 2020 summit, the EU decided to adopt a more reasonable stance,” Cavusoglu said of last month’s meeting, where EU leaders stopped short of imposing tough sanctions on Turkey for violations against member-states Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying that the issue will be broached again in March 2021.

While the conclusions of that summit contained some “undesirable articles,” they nevertheless demonstrated an awareness of Turkey’s importance to the union, Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu’s comments came a day after the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece would resume on January 25, 2021.

Exploratory talks between Greece, Turkey to resume on Jan 25, 2021.

The new, 61st round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey over territorial claims in the Mediterranean Sea will start on January 25, 2021 in Istanbul, Greece’s Foreign Ministry announced.

Speaking from Lisbon, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he hoped the talks would pick up from where they left off in March 2016, when the last round broke down.

Mitsotakis said Greece seeks a fertile relationship with Turkey, adding that the country will discuss the issue of disputed maritime zones.

The two countries have held talks between 2002-2016 which were complicated by the issues that each side were willing to discuss.

Turkish Foreign Minister slams Greece for violating international law

Greece has suspended EU, international law by ‘behaving inhumanly’ against asylum seekers, says Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Turkey’s foreign minister slammed Greece for suspending European Union and international law with its actions against asylum seekers on its borders.

“Greece, a member of the European Union, has suspended international and EU law. It fires on land and sea at asylum seekers who have taken refuge at its borders and behaves inhumanely, sinking their boats and attacking them with tear gas. It killed three people and injured others,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

“Millions of people have been displaced in Syria and are coming to our borders. The Middle East is our neighbor and not as far from Europe as Europeans think. The events also affect Europe,” Cavusoglu said.

Turkish officials announced that they would no longer try to stop asylum seekers from reaching Europe. Since then, thousands of asylum seekers have flocked to the Turkish province of Edirne along the border with Greece and Bulgaria to make their way into Europe.

Turkey cannot shoulder burden alone

Cavusoglu deemed it “irresponsible” and “not acceptable” to say that refugees should not come to other countries and that Turkey should deal with them.

“Our country cannot shoulder this heavy burden on its own. It is not honest to see this as a threat, blackmail or political maneuver by Turkey. We provide the necessary protection and support to 4 million people in our country,” he said.

On the other hand, Cavusoglu noted that his country does not have to stop asylum seekers who want to go to a safe country.

Describing the displacement of people as “the problem of the age”, he emphasized that the “logical thing” is to solve this problem where it arises.

Turkey’s decision on asylum seekers was made after 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred by forces of Syria’s regime in Idlib, northwestern Syria. The Turkish soldiers were working to protect local civilians under a deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.

Turkey, which already hosts some 4 million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world, says it cannot absorb another refugee wave.

Turkey has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under a 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.