EU cannot afford to lose Turkey: Deputy PM Kurtulmus
The European Union cannot afford to lose Turkey, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in London on Sunday.

In a speech made at the Turkish embassy to mark the end of his three-day visit to the U.K., Kurtulmus said: "Losing Turkey is not an option the EU can afford.”

About the state of relations between Turkey and EU, he said: "Unfortunately, we had to tell our counterparts here about how the EU’s failure to take necessary steps towards visa liberalization as agreed in the deal created a sense of betrayal on the Turkish side.”

Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.

He said Turkey had fulfilled its promise to stop the flow of refugees from Turkey to European countries as part of the deal. "In return we expected them to keep their promises. Unfortunately, they did not do that,” he said.

"Intelligent politicians who think about the institutional interests of the EU and even think of their own national interests must understand this. If EU loses Turkey, it will become more introverted,” he added.

The remarks of the deputy premier come after the European Parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding motion that advised to halt accession talks between the European Union and Turkey.

"It is for the EU to decide, the politicians of EU to decide about how to shape the future of relations with Turkey,” he said.

"They will have to make their decisions and take steps to maintain negotiations with Turkey on a level of equal partnership, leave aside their biased and partial attitudes towards the country …or the alternative of this would be pathetic for Europe,” he added.

- Europe's position post-coup attempt

Speaking about the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, Kurtulmus said Europe had contradicted its fundamental value, democracy, in its reaction to the coup attempt.

"Turkey has returned from the edge of the cliff,” he said. "We expected our friends in Europe, who express their commitment to democracy at every opportunity, to condemn this anti-democratic coup attempt in Turkey.

"However, we heard condemnations from only very few politicians.

"Europe must have protected Turkey's democracy and expressed its solidarity with Turkey in every platform, in terms of protecting its own values and as a respect for its own democratic standards. It was supposed to condemn the FETO [Fetullah Terrorist Organization] and the forces behind it in this coup attempt,” he said.

FETO, led by U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, is accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government by infiltrating state institutions, mainly the police and the judiciary. The defeated July 15 coup saw 247 people martyred and around 2,200 others injured.

Earlier, Kurtulmus met the House of Commons leader David Lidington and Prime Minister's National Security Adviser Mark Lyall Grant as part of his visit to the U.K.

He had also attended an event at the think tank Chatham House and gave interviews to international media outlets. He also met representatives of the Turkish community and Turkish students studying in London during his visit.

Last Modified: 2016-11-28 10:04:08
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