T.R. Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın attended the online event held by DEIK and EPC.

T.R. Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın spoke at the “Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty” online meeting held by DEIK and the Brussels-based think tank EPC (European Policy Centre). The program was started by Zeynep Bodur Okyay, Member of DEIK Board of Directors, and moderated by Amanda Paul.

Kalın stated that they conducted an active diplomacy in Libya and agreed with Russia on creating a working group to focus on reliable and sustainable truce. Reminding that Turkey was invited to internationally legitimate Libyan Government of National Accord, Kalın pointed out how Hafter still continued its offensive and aggressive behaviour. Kalın also talked about the Suheyrat Agreement signed for political consensus in 2015 in Libya and said Hafter was violating it.

We Don’t Accept Greece’s Maximalist Position

Kalın also talked about Turkey-Greece relations and said the two countries were allies in NATO as neighbours by sharing a similar history and culture. Stating that Greece was making Maximalist claims in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Kalın said: “We cannot accept the 40 thousand square kilometre continental shelf claims, which is almost half of the Gulf of Antalya, of Meis Island that is two kilometres away from Turkey and 580 kilometres from the Greece mainland. This is against logic, against geography, and against international agreements. Thus, we don’t accept Greece’s maximalist position.”

He also noted that Greece overreacted to the activities of Oruç Reis Research Vessel in the East Mediterranean and said they didn’t wish for any military or political tension in the area.

He also talked about how Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus was acting the same way as Greece and used EU membership as a negotiation tool to put pressure on Turkey and said, “We want all natural resources in East Mediterranean to be shared fairly. We are only there to protect our rights. We can never give in to their threats and sanction statements.”

Turkish and European Economies Depend On Each Other

Stating that the EU failed to fulfil its responsibilities in the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey, he added: “We want to work together with the EU to solve the refugee problem. Everyone must recognize that we carry a greater burden here. Turkey has been hosting around 4 million refugees for the last 5-6 years due to humanitarian reasons. We need to share the burden in these times. You cannot be fair if you don’t share our burden of refugees and other matters.”

Kalın also talked about how Turkish and European economies are dependent on each other and that 45% of Turkey’s foreign trade consisted of Eurozone economies.

He noted that visa liberalisation needs to be provided for Turkish citizens and Turkey-EU refugee agreement needs to be updated and said, “We want to complete the Customs Union update negotiations.” He concluded by saying that they wanted to increase the trade volume with European countries and fight against common threats like terrorism together.