Ankara does not expect EU leaders to freeze negotiations

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(L-R) EU Commissioner of Migration & Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU Commissioner for Security Union Julian King pose before their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on November 30, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik said on Wednesday that he does not expect European leaders will decide to freeze the negotiations process with Ankara at their December summit.

The European Parliament last week passed a non-binding resolution calling for a suspension of Turkey’s EU membership talks because of the Turkish government’s “disproportionate” response to a failed coup attempt that took place on July 15.

Underlining the need for a summit at the leaders’ level between the EU and Turkey, Çelik said: “There is deadlock in the relations. How we will continue is a topic that should be evaluated at the leaders’ level,” following a meeting with   EU Commissioner of Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU Commissioner for Security Union Julian King in Brussels on Wednesday.

Describing the meeting as “constructive,” Çelik called on European leaders to avoid focusing only on refugees but also to consider visa liberalization and acceleration of the negotiations process between Ankara and Brussels, part of a refugee agreement reached on March 18 between Turkey and the EU.

Stating that there would be a government meeting in the coming days for evaluation of the recent EU proposals on the agreement, Çelik noted that Timmermans, Avramopoulos and King might visit Ankara depending on the result of the meeting.

“We have not said anything about the deadline of the agreements between Turkey and the EU. But everything has a natural lifetime. We are approaching the end of the year, and it has not yet been put into practice. Turkey has fulfilled the majority of its responsibilities. But the EU has not done as much as Turkey has,” added Çelik.

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