By Ilker Girit
ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik called upon European leaders for further cooperation with Turkey on several "intertwined problems" on security.
In an article he wrote for the Brussels-based New Europe newspaper Sunday, Celik said "European refugee crisis clearly showed us that Turkey’s and EU’s problems are intertwined."
"Intertwined problems require a simultaneous and common response," he added.
Celik also criticized the European bloc for not responding to several problems at the right time.
"Turkey started to face the refugee crisis in 2011, well before start of the mass influx to EU countries in 2015. What the EU should have done was to immediately start collaborating with Turkey for helping Syrian refugees and setting up safe zones in Syria.
"Unfortunately, we witnessed that EU only started a substantial cooperation with Turkey during the last months of 2015," said the minister.
"As of November, the arrivals to Greek Islands from Turkey is 66 daily on average, which is a remarkable difference when compared to 7.000 daily in October last year when Turkey and EU had not yet started a comprehensive cooperation effort," he said.
Celik also stressed that “stronger EU” is urgently needed against many challenges in the region. Moreover, "the EU needs the robust and ever-closer Turkey," he said.
"Today, more than ever before, the security of EU and Turkey is interconnected.
"The dramatic changes we have witnessed in Syria and Iraq, from Middle East to the very centres of Europe, all mean that the EU and Turkey should act jointly against security threats," Celik added.
He underlined that Turkey-EU relations are not only limited to cooperation on migration or anti-terrorism.
Celik stated that overcoming common challenges "should be a top priority for Turkey-EU relations" such as counter-terrorism, energy security, economy and irregular migration.
Celik noted that terror threat is constantly evolving, and urged, "leaving aside all prejudices, all doubts, and all questions, we must drain the swamp of this evil immediately."
"We should never forget that terrorists are terrorists, not freedom fighters. Instead of being selective, we must do more to cooperate against all kinds of terrorist activities," he added.
Celik also criticized the European Parliament for its non-binding decision to halt the accession negotiations with Turkey.
"It is not the European Parliament’s role to decide from today the prospective of the accession talks through a narrow-minded resolution suggesting a call for the temporary freeze of negotiations with Turkey.
"On the contrary it is the very responsibility of the European Parliament to show solidarity with Turkey, a candidate country, countering terrorism and upholding its democracy against unprecedented threats," he wrote.
Celik further lashed out at Austria which is pushing other EU member states to halt Turkey’s EU membership talks, saying, "such efforts not only discourage Turkish people but also do not generate any good for the EU’s current crises that require Turkey’s cooperation."
He urged that EU should respond "properly to Turkey’s determination" and adopt a fair approach towards Turkey.
"This will also demonstrate that the Union is still capable of constructing a wider vision for Europe and for the world," he added.