Spain in a Turkish map

Spain and Turkey: partners and allies in the Mediterranean

In an article posted in a Spanish newspaper, Turkey’s foreign minister highlights historical ties with Spain and the good relations between both countries.

Turkey considers Spain a partner and ally in the Mediterranean, and appreciates its efforts for its constructive stance in the dispute between Ankara and Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean and for the support that Madrid has always shown for Turkey’s entry into the EU, says Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in an article published this Friday in a Spanish newspaper.

In the article, published in the newspaper La Razón, Çavuşoğlu insists that his country will always try to resolve regional and EU conflicts through diplomacy and dialogue, a position it shares with Spain.

“We have noted with appreciation that Spain follows a constructive attitude that emphasises dialogue and cooperation within the EU (…) regarding our attitude to protect our maritime border delimitation in the Eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law and our attitude to protect rights and interests in the context of Turkish Cypriots,” writes Çavuşoğlu.

“In this process of radical change that the world is going through, Turkey and Spain move together in close collaboration, they work together to turn the Mediterranean into a basin of peace, security and solidarity, showing one of the best examples of regional involvement. In this region our past, present and future with Spain are inseparably intertwined. With this awareness, we will continue working together for peace “, he adds.

Relations between Spain and Turkey, best than ever

Underlining the historical relations between Spain and Turkey, Çavuşoğlu affirms that the ties between the two countries are at their best, adding that regarding to economic relations, both countries want to increase their volume of commercial exchanges, currently at 13,000 million euros a year, up to 20,000 million euros per year.

Turkey maintains a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over the delimitation of its territorial waters and its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey considers that Athens violates its national sovereignty with disproportionate jurisdictional claims that ignore the fact that Turkey has the largest continental coastline of the region. The Turkish government further accuses the Greek Cypriots of ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.

Despite several initiatives by Turkey, Greece has so far maintained a belligerent attitude by refusing to get into a bilateral dialogue with Turkey within the framework of NATO – of which both nations are equal members – and on the contrary pressuring the EU – where Greece invokes the solidarity of other member States – to impose unilateral sanctions against Ankara.

Concern about the increase of racism in Europe

The Turkish minister also says in the article that Turkey is concerned about the increase in racism and xenophobia in Europe, and about the silence and even complicity of many governments in the face of this worrying phenomenon. “We see that terrorism, hatred for ethnicity or religion, discrimination, extremism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and other exclusionary attitudes are on the rise,” says Çavuşoğlu.

“In particular the insults, cartoons and attacks on religious values ​​that offend and provoke Muslims open deep wounds and cause divisions in society under the guise of freedom of expression or art. We note that some Western governments remain as mere spectators to these events due to electoral concerns and even adopt extreme right-wing speeches,” he adds in clear reference to governments such as France.

The Turkish Foreign Minister also refers to the phenomenon of illegal immigration as a global problem that constitutes a common challenge for both Spain and Turkey. “The fight against illegal immigration (…) is among our common challenges with Spain. Turkey is the country that hosts the most refugees in the world. We host some 4 million externally displaced persons, of whom 3.6 million are Syrians.” highlights Çavuşoğlu.

“Turkey remains the most generous country in the world in humanitarian aid. We have largely stopped the flow of immigrants to the EU, complying with our obligations under the Agreement of March 18 (2016). Unfortunately, the EU has not yet fulfilled its obligations derived from said Agreement”, recalls the Turkish politician referring to the promises of the EU countries to advance in the accession negotiations and exempt Turkish citizens from visas to travel to the EU.

Turkey can play a key role in the EU

“It is a satisfaction that Spain is aware of the key role that Turkey plays in strategic and global terms, as well as the contribution it can make to the European Union in terms of security, immigration, economic dynamism and with its young population. Thanks to this mentality, Spain has long been among the main countries that support our process of joining the European bloc”, the article adds.

“We have the desire to join our forces and work together in regions such as Africa and Latin America, where both countries play an active role and contribute constructively”, concludes Çavuşoğlu at the end in the article, where he asks to deepen the close ties between Turkey and Spain, which he considers two partner and allied countries located at both sides of the Mediterranean and capable of converting “one of the oldest basins of civilisation in the world into a region of peace and well-being.”