TURKEY wants to make a “fresh start” with the European Union under a new vision, in the wake of soured relations over recent months, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has stated.
“Unfortunately, the EU adopted a negative attitude in the aftermath of the [July 15, 2016] coup attempt and during the constitutional change process … But all of that has been left behind. The EU and Turkey now want to make a fresh start with a new vision,” Yıldırım said at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras in Athens.
Yıldırım also thanked Greece for its “constructive” role in Turkey’s EU accession process and the implementation of a migrant deal with the bloc.
“The signing of the deal last year on March 18 was exciting, but unfortunately problems surfaced in a very short time,” said the prime minister.
“Despite these problems, we substantially curbed the flow of migrants to the Greekislands, knowing that it was a major problem for the EU and Greece.
“Our wish and expectation is that the remaining points agreed on are implemented by the EU as soon as possible. I want to convey my dear friend Tsipras’s contributions in this issue,” Yıldırım added.
According to the deal, Turkey agreed to stop the flow of migrants to the EU via the Aegean and take back migrants who traveled via Turkey, while the EU in return promised to allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to the Schengen zone and allocate 3 billion euros to be used for the Syrian migrants in Turkey.
While some funds were allocated, no steps were taken in the visa regime, with Brussels tying it to a change in Turkey’s draconian anti-terror law.