Turkey rebukes EU for double talk on visa liberalization

Turkey rebukes EU for double talk on visa liberalization

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and chief EU negotiator and State Minister Egemen Bağış have criticized the EU for not taking further steps towards Turkey-EU visa liberalization even though not a single EU member country openly opposes the removal of visa requirements for Turks, Today's Zaman reported.

After attending the second Turkey-EU Political Dialogue meeting, held in Brussels on Friday, Davutoğlu expressed Turkey's disappointment with the EU, noting that the union has lifted visas for every candidate and prospective candidate country except for Turkey.

The Turkish ministers requested that the EU begin talks for visa liberalization and also asked the EU to find solutions to Turkey's losses stemming from the EU's free trade agreements with third countries.

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said all his EU counterparts have expressed support for Turkey on the visa matter, adding that there is no reason for the lack of developments on that front.

"We heard a number of EU countries are blocking Turkish efforts for visa liberalization. I spoke with officials from all these countries and not one said they were [against visa-free travel for Turks]. It appears there is a ghost within the EU that opposes [visa liberalization for Turkey]. Although all of them are trying to maintain good relations with us, when it comes to EU-level talks among themselves, they are hindering Turkey's progress," Davutoğlu said.

The second Turkey-EU Political Dialogue meeting, which focused on the latest situation of Turkey's EU accession talks, was held in Brussels on Friday and attended by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Turkey's EU Minister Egemen Bağış.

The first political dialogue meeting was held in July 2010 at İstanbul's Çırağan Palace.

A wide range of issues relating to Turkey-European Union relations were covered during the meeting, chaired by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle. The political situation in the Middle East and the Balkans was also touched upon.

Bağış delivered a speech on Turkish efforts to implement a positive agenda, initiated by the EU Commission to give Turkey's EU process new momentum, and the adoption of EU acquis.

Davutoğlu also made a speech on the foreign policy priorities of Turkey and the EU, which show harmony on a number of issues, including the position on the Balkans and the Middle East. Turkey and the EU place emphasis on peace and stability with the negotiation of ethnic and religious disputes in the Middle East and the Balkans.

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