Turkey, EU agree to ease tensions after failed coup

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Ankara | Published: September 9, 2016 8:20:12 PM

Turkey and the European Union agreed to ease tensions that had darkened Ankara's prospects of joining the bloc in the wake of the failed July 15 coup.

Turkey-L-reuTurkish military block access to the Bosphorus bridge, which links the city?s European and Asian sides, in Istanbul. (Reuters)

Turkey and the European Union today agreed to ease tensions that had darkened Ankara’s prospects of joining the bloc in the wake of the failed July 15 coup.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn — making the highest-level EU visit to Turkey since the coup — said that new chapters in Ankara’s long-running accession process should be opened and that visa liberalisation was still on the table.

Several Turkish and EU officials had engaged in a war of words after the attempted putsch, with Brussels slamming the ensuing crackdown and Ankara unhappy with an apparent lack of solidarity from the bloc.

“The key element which we agreed to was that we talk more to each other and a little bit less about each other, showing full respect,” Mogherini said after talks with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and EU Minister Omer Celik.

Mogherini unequivocally condemned the coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying: “There is no space whatsoever… for any attempt at a coup.”

She said the sides had an “in-depth discussion” about ensuring the rule of law was protected following criticism of the crackdown in which tens of thousands of people have been arrested or dismissed over alleged links to the putsch.

She said the main outcome of the meeting was “a strong recommitment to dialogue and common work on all strands of our cooperation.”

Cavusoglu added: “We must work together because there are problems that emerge that affect all our people. If there is a problem, we must mutually solve it.”

Hahn acknowledged there had been “many irritations” on both sides following the coup, emphasising that Turkey had to behave in a manner befitting of a candidate member.

“Turkey was, is and will be a candidate country. And as a candidate country we have to apply higher standards.”

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