ISTANBUL: Turkey and Austria are looking to normalize relations after months of tensions between Ankara and Vienna, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 25.
“We’ve agreed to normalize our relations,” Çavuşoğlu said, speaking at a joint press conference with his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl.
The two ministers have discussed ways in which they can open a new page in bilateral relations between the two countries.
Çavuşoğlu cited a phone call initiated by Kneissl during which Kneissl expressed aims to restore ties with Turkey.
He said Turkey has made efforts to improve relations with Europe and the rest of the world and has no hostility towards any nation. The two countries should avoid sending each other messages through the media, he noted.
“We cannot ask or force Austria to change their thoughts or feelings about Turkey but they do not have to clearly express their feelings,” he stated, stressing that both parties should focus on building a “positive agenda”.
Çavuşoğlu said they have discussed Turkey’s struggle against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ) and Ankara would provide further intelligence information concerning the FETÖ.
Ties between the two countries soured in 2016 when Austrian authorities imposed restrictions on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in Turkey. The campaigns were supposed to target Turkish nationals living in Austria.
Ankara has also censured the Austrian government for “illiberal” integration policies, “populist” rhetoric and “failure” to take a strong stance against growing racism and Islamophobia.
Kneissl said they also discussed Turkey’s EU accession bid. “We know Austria has a different position on the issue. This is not a secret. We have many issues to discuss in addition to this one,” she said.
In August 2016, then Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said he would start a discussion among European heads of government to quit talks with Turkey about joining the European Union because of the country’s “democratic and economic deficits.”
Austria is widely considered one of Turkey’s foremost opponents to the country’s bid for EU accession.__Hurriyet