Turkey and the United Kingdom will continue to “give direction” to politics in Europe, Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik said on Sept. 13.
The U.K.’s exit from the bloc will not change the fact that the country is one of the biggest powers in Europe, Çelik said in an address at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House on the second day of his London visit.
“The U.K., Europe’s gateway to the Atlantic, and Turkey, Europe’s gate to Asia, will continue to shape Europe’s politics,” he said.
“Similarly, even if it is not an EU member, Turkey has been a European power and it has been continuing its journey as a European democracy for 100 years,” Çelik added.
The power of democracy in Turkey was seen “in the struggle people showed to protect it during the [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ coup attempt on July 15, 2016,” he said.
The minister stressed that Turkey’s contribution to Europe’s security “was clear both in the management of the migrant crisis and in the fight against Daesh,” using another acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In his speech titled “Europe and Turkey: A Common Future”, Çelik said the U.K. and Turkey will continue to be “two pillars of the European architecture.”
Turkey is closely following the Brexit process as it will “change the EU fundamentally,” he said, adding that the world was in a “transitional period.”
“We are going through a sensitive period … The former stabilities in the world are changing and we are facing a new world. Many analyses describe this situation as a global world without leaders … The leadership of the Western bloc is under discussion, while the rise of China and Russia is gaining pace,” he said.
Turkey’s EU minister also warned of the rise of the far right in Europe.
“Far-right parties’ rise to second position in many countries or gaining a position to become a leading partner show that the liberal order is under threat from within Europe,” Çelik said.
“The shaken self-integrity of Europe with the Brexit decision, as well as the power-gaining of the far right in Europe, weakens the struggle against terrorism and attempts to deal with irregular migration, bringing into question trust in the European project and the EU’s loyalty to universal values,” he added.
“[Europe] needs to take inclusion into its agenda in order to eliminate polarization … and to stop the poisoning of society with hate speech, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism,” he said.
“It is clear that recent statements to exclude Turkey and cut Turkey-EU negotiations will not serve the great future that Europe seeks,” Çelik added.
“The protection of Ankara’s security means the protection of security in Berlin, London, Rome and Paris,” he also said.