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Turkey remains committed to Europe says deputy PM

19 June 2016

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, has said that Turkey remains committed to closer ties with the European Union despite strains in the relationship, and wants to deepen a customs union to become the bloc’s third largest trade partner.

Turkey’s relations with Europe have deteriorated over demands it amend its anti-terrorism laws on human rights grounds under a deal to curb migration, prompting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month to angrily warn: “We’re going our way, you go yours.”

Despite all the noise, I think it is in our interests to remain anchored to Europe,” Simsek told Reuters in an interview in his office in Ankara, when asked about a possible “Brexit.”

From our perspective, we see Europe as a source of inspiration, as a reference point when it comes to strengthening the rule of law, enhancing standards of democracy … and I don’t see a substitute to the EU in Turkey’s near geography.”

However, he described as “unfair” the EU’s insistence that Turkey softens its anti-terrorism laws to gain visa-free travel, part of a wider deal on migration which has helped stem the flow of illegal migrants via Turkey to European shores. “Our European partners should understand us,” Simsek argued.

Hurriyet

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