The EU-Turkey Association Council held its 54th meeting on Friday in Brussels, ONA reports citing the statement of the Council of the EU.
The meeting was the first one held after the lifting of the State of Emergency in Turkey last year.
On the EU side, the meeting was chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn and on the Turkey side, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief Negotiator of Turkey Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu led the Turkish delegation.
The EU high-ranking officials reaffirmed the importance of the relations between the EU and Turkey, a candidate country and a key partner and stressed the importance of open and frank dialogue, within the established framework, in order to address common challenges in areas of joint interest such as migration, counter-terrorism, energy, transport, the economy and trade.
Underlining Turkey's important role and responsibility within the wider region, the EU officials said that the enhanced dialogue, cooperation and alignment on foreign policy issues is crucial. The officials added that the EU will continue supporting Turkey in its fight against terrorism, while stressing that all counter-terrorist actions must respect the principles of democracy, human rights and international law.
The EU officials also expressed their concerns over deeply worrying backsliding in the areas of fundamental rights and rule of law, and the deterioration of the independence and functioning of the judiciary. Accroding to the EU officials, their expectation from Turkey is to be ensured that its plans for judicial reform are realised in line with EU and Council of Europe standards.