Turkish Ambassador to the EU, Selim Yenel, has urged the European Union to fulfill its pledges to grant a visa free entry for Turkish nationals as well as three billion euros a year for the country’s cooperation in the migrant crisis. Mr Yenel moreover suggested that the EU should finally move on with the negotiations regarding Turkey’s EU membership as well as resume inviting Turkish leaders to join EU’s high-profile events in order to boost mutual trust and cooperation. “It is only operational if the EU delivers on its pledges, the four pledges that they gave,” Ambassador said.
Mr Yenel also expressed his pity that both sides “had to come together because of a crisis” while adding that “we know how the EU works, that it functions and evolves through crises and maybe we needed a crisis to come together”. These comments are a reaction to last week’s grand announcement that the EU had reached a refugee cooperation agreement with Turkey, which was soon slapped down by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After the deal had been reached, Ankara also promptly suggested that the EU should take Turkey’s EU membership much more seriously.
The country blamed Greek Cypriots for having blocked accession talks in a number of crucial areas such as fundamental rights and judiciary. The divided east Mediterranean island is a major obstacle to Turkey’s EU membership despite ongoing peace talks. Moreover, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu disdained the EU’s proposals of financial help after a few European leaders had suggested that three billion euros might be a problem. In fact, the money and the membership are not the only things Turkey wants. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had earlier outlined a proposal for a buffer zone and a no-fly zone stretching for 80 kilometers in northern Syria. Ankara says that the zone could be used as an area for the “voluntary return of refugees”.