Turkey’s Foreign Minister Fidan: The Customs Union dispute with the EU is not political but technical in nature

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, during a chat session with Ankara correspondents from various newspapers, addressed questions about the Customs Union with the European Union (EU).

He emphasized that the Customs Union is a technical matter. He believes that if the EU chooses not to politicize it, progress can be made. In other words, both Turkey and its European counterparts have the will to resolve the issues related to the Customs Union. He stated that any lack of agreement would be due to technical issues, not a matter of political stance. However, he noted that the EU, lacking a foreign policy lever, is increasingly using economic matters as a form of leverage. Minister Fidan mentioned that Turkey has taken steps to revitalize relations in line with the vision of President Erdogan, and this includes addressing the Customs Union, visa liberalization, and certain other issues. He also pointed out that meaningful discussions have taken place, and progress can be made as long as the EU chooses to engage in diplomacy in a mature and conditional manner.

EU is not a “complete union”

Foreign Minister Fidan pointed out that Turkey’s relationship with the EU has experienced chaotic situations from time to time. He emphasized that the EU is not a complete union and doesn’t function as a state, especially in terms of foreign policy matters. Although the EU is not a union in the sense of a single, cohesive state, it’s also not like individual nation-states. The EU’s internal disagreements and divisions can sometimes have negative effects on its relations with Turkey. He gave an example that the EU sometimes appears to submit to specific issues with trivial reasons, showing what he described as a childish behavior. Fidan indicated that progress in EU-Turkey relations can be achieved if the EU exhibits a more mature and rational approach.

There was a rupture in the EU-Turkey relationship during the Sarkozy era

He further mentioned that a significant break in EU-Turkey relations occurred during the time of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former President of France. According to Minister Fidan, Sarkozy’s emphasis on identity politics led European leaders to shift their focus from rationality, geostrategy, and geopolitics to party politics. This shift in emphasis contributed to the deterioration of relations between Turkey and the EU.

In contact with US Secretary of State Blinken

Hakan Fidan stated that Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, expressed a desire to visit Turkey during his regional trip. Turkey was among the countries he intended to visit. However, due to scheduling conflicts, Blinken’s preferred visit date did not align with Hakan Fidan’s calendar. Despite this, there is ongoing communication and coordination between the two, and Blinken is still planning to visit Turkey in the near future. Their respective teams are working on determining the exact timing of the visit.

The US lost moral ground in the region

In response to the question of how he views the United States’ decision to send an aircraft carrier to the region where the Israel-Hamas conflict is taking place, Foreign Minister Fidan said the following: “This is not new. They may have tactical and strategic objectives of their own. As far as we can see, they want this to be a deterrent if any party other than Hamas enters the war. It seems that the Americans have accepted a policy of eliminating Hamas as a party in Palestine, with the pressure of the Israelis. We will see to what extent America will do this. At first, they are providing Israel with all kinds of ammunition and other support. America’s moral superiority in the region has been damaged incredibly. We may be on the verge of a permanent break.”

“There are sometimes serious incidents and clashes on the border between Israel’s north and Lebanon’s south. In particular, there are reports of mutual artillery fire. However, it has not yet turned into a full-blown conflict. But we are currently seeing that Israel is amassing forces there, and Hezbollah is doing the same. The Lebanese government is naturally concerned about a potential war, as it believes that this would further damage the country’s economy. In a phone call with the Lebanese Prime Minister, he asked us to do everything we can to prevent the conflict from spreading. Within this framework, I will be in Lebanon to meet with the parties. This is an important issue.”

The US is using PKK as a guardian in tne region

“In that region, we do not hesitate to destroy the organizational infrastructure and revenue-generating sources that keep the organization alive. Those who support them are shocked to see the organization, which they spent so much money on, be destroyed by four operations. It is clear that they are a paper tiger that can be popped with a needle. The day the US withdraws from there, they will not be able to find shelter there. Because the local people, Arabs, and Syrians are also uncomfortable with them. The only excuse of those who support them is the fight against ISIS. In fact, there is no actual fight against ISIS there right now. There are only ISIS prisoners. They are making the PKK guard them. You know, Guantanamo caused a serious crisis in US domestic politics. Now they are making a terrorist organization guard ISIS prisoners there. We tell the Americans: We have no problem with you on Syrian soil. However, we will not hesitate to target the organization that is nesting there. This is also the instruction given by our President to our armed forces, security organizations, and intelligence agencies.”