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Ankara seeks normalisation with EU in 2021: Turkish official

The EU has imposed sanctions on Turkey over Mediterranean gas exploration [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2021

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Ankara wants to mend its strained relations with the European Union this year, Deputy Foreign Minister Kaymakci said.
Turkey hopes to normalise its strained relations with the European Union in 2021, the country's deputy foreign minister said on Thursday.

Ankara expects "dialogue and engagement with no conditions" from the EU, explained Faruk Kaymakci.

"2021 can be a year of normalisation in Turkey-EU relations; it can also be a year of reform and win-win," the director for European affairs told pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah.

Relations between Turkey and the EU have been increasingly strained in recent years, with leading member states objecting to Turkish military interventions in Syria and Libya.

Most pressing has been the issue of energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey has been searching for gas and oil deposits in waters claimed by Greece. 

The EU has backed member state Greece over the issue. On the other hand, Turkey claims maritime territories in the eastern Mediterranean have been unfairly divided - something Ankara sought to rectify with a maritime pact with Libya.

"I hope that we can start exploratory talks with Greece, and we wish that the proposed Eastern Mediterranean conference can be held as quickly as possible. I think this can bring a positive agenda to the East Med by bringing together coastal states including Turkish Cypriots," Kaymakci told Daily Sabah.

"For us, the participation of the Turkish Cypriots in this conference is a must," he explainered, refering to the northern breakaway state that is only recognised by Ankara. 

"Turkish Cypriots have the same rights as Greek Cypriots regarding natural resources," Kaymakci said, adding: "We should take advantage of the oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean to establish an inclusive energy cooperation having the potential to play the role coal and steel did for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951."

Kaymakci slammed EU sanctions on Turkey, calling the strategy "unfair".

He added that Ankara had recently embarked upon a new reform process with an eye towards securing visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone and eventual EU membership.

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