Estonian foreign minister to visit Turkey

Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand (Riigikogu)
By Rain Kooli
8/5/2016 4:33 PM
Category: News

According to Marina Kaljurand, who will be visiting Turkey as a representative of the Estonian presidency of the Council of Europe, the right time for Turkey and the EU to discuss getting closer was five or six years ago, when Turkey really did want closer relations.

According to Kaljurand, the visit to Turkey was suggested to her by Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, who himself had recently returned from Ankara.

The trip will take place, in the minister's words, "in a few weeks, but at the latest before the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers' Deputies," which will be taking place in early September.

Kaljurand did not agree with the claim that this visit had to do with a race between Russia and the EU to nudge Turkey into their own respective sphere of influence.

"Turkey and Russia's relations have improved significantly, but Turkey's foreign minister has confirmed to me that they do not see it as a case of relations with Russia becoming a bigger priority than relations with the EU," Kaljurand told ERR.

She did admit, however, that the EU slept on its prime opportunity to develop closer relations with Turkey five or six years ago. "The EU let that moment pass, and today I am not convinced of Turkey's desire or intention in this regard," said the Estonian minister.

"Attitude of various EU member states toward Turkey were varied before the coup attempt, as they are now as well," noted Kaljurand, referring to Chancellor of Austria Christian Kern's Thursday statement in which the latter called for accession talks with Turkey to be ceased altogether.

In her own words, Kaljurand did not approve of such an approach, but rather found that Turkey should continue to be encouraged to carry out democratic reforms and align in the same direction as the EU.

"True, we — Estonia, the EU as well as the Council of Europe — would like to see what happens in Turkey to the thousands of people taken into custody [following the coup attempt], including 800 diplomats," noted the minister.

Kaljurand admitted that the situation is complicated for the EU and the Council of Europe — that while the coup attempt in Turkey was uniformly condemned, the subsequent purges have been difficult to watch with a light heart.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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