Iran Summons UK Envoy, Again, over Anti-crackdown Complaints

The Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (Reuters)
The Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (Reuters)
TT

Iran Summons UK Envoy, Again, over Anti-crackdown Complaints

The Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (Reuters)
The Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (Reuters)

Iran summoned the British ambassador, again, for what it said were “provocative” statements made by London over Tehran’s crackdown on widespread protests, Iran’s state news reported on Wednesday.

Iranian authorities summoned Simon Shercliff for the second time in less than 10 days and “strongly condemned the interventionist statements resorting to provocative and fake interpretations” by London, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The summons came two days after British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged Iranian authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and exercise restraint and release unfairly detained protesters.

Tehran said the “unilateral and selective” statement showed that the UK is siding with British-based groups opposed to Iran.

Widespread demonstrations in Iran were sparked by the death a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of the morality police.

Iranian leaders accuse the West, particularly the United States and Israel, of planning the protests ignited by the death of the 22-year-old woman. Amini was arrested for violating the country's strict dress code. Iran has also bombed the headquarters of Kurdish opposition groups it accuses of inciting protests, an accusation the groups deny.

Iran has provided no evidence to support its claims of foreign involvement.

The protests entered a third week on Wednesday, despite government efforts to clamp down on demonstrators and embroiled dozens of cities across the country in the most widespread challenge to Iran’s leadership in years. A series of festering crises have helped fuel public rage, including the country’s political repression, ailing economy and global isolation.

The scope of the ongoing unrest, the most sustained in over a decade, remains unclear as witnesses report spontaneous gatherings across the country featuring small acts of defiance — protesters shouting slogans from rooftops, cutting their hair and burning their state-mandated headscarves.

Iran’s security forces have sought to disperse demonstrations with tear gas, metal pellets, and in some cases live fire, rights groups say. Iran’s state TV reports that violent confrontations between protesters and the police have killed at least 41 people, but human rights groups say the number is much higher. Over a thousand people have reportedly been detained.

On Monday, Cleverly summoned Iran’s envoy over the Iranian authorities’ violent crackdown on the protests and said the violence was “truly shocking.”

“We will continue to work with our partners to hold the Iranian authorities to account for their flagrant human-rights violations,” he said.

The UK also outlined concern over reports of Iranian authorities using live ammunition against protesters.

Earlier last week Iran summoned Shercliff to protest Britain hosting Farsi-language media outlets critical of Iran. The ministry alleges the news outlets have provoked disturbances and the spread of riots in Iran at the top of their programs.



NATO Allies Pledge Additional Air Defense Systems for Kyiv, Stoltenberg Says

 Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at the end of a virtual meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 19, 2024. (AFP)
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at the end of a virtual meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 19, 2024. (AFP)
TT

NATO Allies Pledge Additional Air Defense Systems for Kyiv, Stoltenberg Says

 Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at the end of a virtual meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 19, 2024. (AFP)
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at the end of a virtual meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 19, 2024. (AFP)

NATO allies on Friday agreed to provide Kyiv with additional air defense systems, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after a special meeting of allied defense ministers with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

"In addition to Patriots, there are other weapons that allies can provide, including (the French system) SAMP/T, and many others, who do not have available systems, have pledged to provide financial support to purchase them for Ukraine," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

Zelenskiy asked for the meeting, which was held online, as his country is facing a shortage of ammunition, with vital funding from the US blocked by Republicans in Congress for months and the EU failing to deliver munitions on time.

Stoltenberg didn't go into detail how many new air defense systems Ukraine will receive, but said he expected fresh announcements in the coming days.

"Help is on its way. And I expect more help and support to be announced in the very near future," he told reporters.

Last week, Germany pledged to supply Kyiv with a third Patriot battery out of its military stocks.

The United States has the highest number of Patriot systems in its inventories. In Europe, nations such as Spain and Greece own Patriot batteries.


Ukraine, Israel Aid Back on Track as House Pushes toward Weekend Votes

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
TT

Ukraine, Israel Aid Back on Track as House Pushes toward Weekend Votes

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)

With rare bipartisan momentum, the House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian support as a coalition of lawmakers helped it clear a procedural hurdle to reach final votes this weekend. Friday’s vote produced a seldom-seen outcome in the typically hyper-partisan House, with Democrats helping Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan advance 316-94. Final House approval could come this weekend, when the package would be sent to the Senate.

It was a victory for the strategy Speaker Mike Johnson set in motion this week after he agonized for two months over the legislation. Still, Johnson has had to spend the past 24 hours making the rounds on conservative media working to salvage support for the wartime funding, particularly for Ukraine as it faces a critical moment battling Russia, but also for his own job as the restless right flank threatens to oust him over the effort.

"There's a lot of misinformation about what we're doing here and why," Johnson told the conservative host of The Mark Levin Show.

"Ukrainians desperately need lethal aid right now. ... We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to roll through another country and take it," he said about the Russian president's invasion of Ukraine. "These are very serious matters with global implications."

After months of delay, the House worked slowly but deliberately once Johnson made up his mind this week to plough ahead. President Joe Biden sent a swift endorsement of the speaker's plan and, in a rare moment, Donald Trump, the Republican presumed presidential nominee who opposes most overseas aid for Ukraine, has not derailed the speaker's work.

"The world is watching what the Congress does," the White House said in a statement. "Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment."

In an extremely rare step, the members of the House Rules Committee joined forces late Thursday in a near midnight vote, the four Democrats giving their support on a procedural step, to push past the Republican majority's three hardline holdouts to send the package to the House floor for debate on a 9-3 vote. It was a moment unseen in recent House memory.

Johnson will need to rely on Democrats again Friday to clear the next procedural vote and turn back amendments Republicans have offered that could kill the package. One from hardline Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would reduce spending for Ukraine to zero.

Greene has filed the "motion to vacate" the speaker from office, and has drawn at least one other Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky as a co-sponsor. It could launch a bid to evict Johnson from the speaker's office, should she call it up for a vote, much the way Republicans booted Kevin McCarthy from the position last fall.

With one of the most narrow House majorities in modern times, Johnson can only afford to lose a single vote or two from his Republican ranks to pass any bill. That dynamic has thrust him into the arms of Democrats as he searches for votes to pass the package.

Without his Republican majority fully behind him, Johnson cannot shape the package as the ultra-conservatives demand lest he lose Democratic backing. It has forced him to leave behind tough security measures to clamp down on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and other priorities.

At best, Johnson has been able to carve up a Senate-passed version of the bill into separate parts, as is the preference among House Republicans, and the final votes will be on distinct measures — for Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific allies.

The package would also include a fourth provision that includes many Republican priorities that Democrats endorse, or at least are willing to accept. Those include proposals that allow the US to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine; impose sanctions on Iran, Russia, China and criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl, and potentially ban the video app TikTok if its China-based owner doesn’t sell its stake within a year.

Passing each bill, in votes expected Saturday, will require Johnson to form complicated bipartisan coalitions on each, with Democrats for example ensuring Ukraine aid is approved, but some left-leaning progressives refusing to back military aid for Israel over the destruction of Gaza.

The components would then be automatically stitched back together into a single package sent to the Senate where hardliners there are also planning procedural moves to stall final approval.


Israel Gave US Last-Minute Warning About Drone Attack on Iran, Italian FM Says at G7 

An Iranian woman walks past an anti-Israel banner with a picture of Iranian missiles on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
An Iranian woman walks past an anti-Israel banner with a picture of Iranian missiles on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
TT

Israel Gave US Last-Minute Warning About Drone Attack on Iran, Italian FM Says at G7 

An Iranian woman walks past an anti-Israel banner with a picture of Iranian missiles on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
An Iranian woman walks past an anti-Israel banner with a picture of Iranian missiles on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

The United States told the Group of Seven foreign ministers on Friday that it received “last minute” information from Israel about a drone action in Iran, Italy’s foreign minister said.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who chaired the meeting of ministers of industrialized countries, said the United States provided the information at a Friday morning session that was changed at the last minute to address the suspected attack.

Tajani said the US informed the G7 ministers that it had been “informed at the last minute” by Israel about the drones. “But there was no sharing of the attack by the US. It was a mere information.”

Early Friday, Iran fired air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site near the central city of Isfahan after spotting drones. They were suspected to be part of an Israeli attack in retaliation for Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country last weekend.

The foreign ministers condemned Iran’s recent attacks against Israel, writing that “the G7 supports the security of Israel.”

In a closing communique, the G7 ministers warned that they are prepared to impose new sanctions on Iran, and called for both sides to avoid escalating the conflict.

“The G7 worked and will work for a de-escalation,” Tajani said in a closing press conference. He said that would include a de-escalation of tensions, followed by a ceasefire, liberation of hostages and aid to the Palestinian people.


Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Visits Frontline Donetsk Region 

Ukrainian servicemen with the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a mortar at Russian forces on the front line near the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, on March 3, 2024. (AP)
Ukrainian servicemen with the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a mortar at Russian forces on the front line near the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, on March 3, 2024. (AP)
TT

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Visits Frontline Donetsk Region 

Ukrainian servicemen with the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a mortar at Russian forces on the front line near the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, on March 3, 2024. (AP)
Ukrainian servicemen with the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fire a mortar at Russian forces on the front line near the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, on March 3, 2024. (AP)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday visited the frontline Donetsk region in Ukraine's east and held a meeting on the defense situation.

He said on X that he also visited a paratroopers' medical platoon and examined the construction of fortifications: "Every effort must be made in this regard."

Twenty-five months into Moscow's full-scale invasion, Ukraine is on the back foot, and Russian troops are inching forward.

Kyiv scaled up its efforts to build effective defense lines as its officials warned about Russian troops preparing a possible offensive later this spring or in summer.

Video from the trip shared by Zelenskiy showed an entrance sign to the town of Sloviansk, about 30 km from the target of a recently intensified Russian advance - Chasiv Yar.

Ukraine's army chief said Moscow troops forces aimed to capture the town by May aiming to set the stage further advance in the region. Kyiv's brigades were holding back the assaults.


Taiwan Says New Chinese Air Routes Threaten Taiwanese Islands’ Flight Safety 

Construction of Xiang'an International Airport in China's Xiamen as seen from Kinmen, Taiwan December 20, 2023. (Reuters)
Construction of Xiang'an International Airport in China's Xiamen as seen from Kinmen, Taiwan December 20, 2023. (Reuters)
TT

Taiwan Says New Chinese Air Routes Threaten Taiwanese Islands’ Flight Safety 

Construction of Xiang'an International Airport in China's Xiamen as seen from Kinmen, Taiwan December 20, 2023. (Reuters)
Construction of Xiang'an International Airport in China's Xiamen as seen from Kinmen, Taiwan December 20, 2023. (Reuters)

Taiwan said on Friday China's decision to open new air routes that run perilously close to two Taiwanese-controlled islands was a flight safety risk taken without consultation, adding it will demand any aircraft using them be asked to turn around.

Taiwan's government expressed anger in January after China "unilaterally" changed a flight path called M503 close to the sensitive median line in the Taiwan Strait. China claims democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory.

The new Chinese routes to China's Xiamen and Fuzhou cities, called W123 and W122 respectively, connect to the M503 flight route, and run alongside existing routes to the islands of Kinmen and Matsu, which have regular flights to and from Taiwan.

China had said in January it was opening routes from west to east - in other words, in the direction of Taiwan - on the two flight paths from Xiamen and Fuzhou, but had not until now announced when they would go into operation.

China's civil aviation regulator said in its brief statement on Friday that those routes were now in operation, adding that from May 16 it would "further optimize" airspace around Fuzhou airport.

It did not elaborate, but that is four days before Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te is inaugurated, a man Beijing believes is a dangerous separatist. Lai has repeatedly offered talks with China but has been rebuffed.

China's regulator added that the changes to the flight paths will help meet the "development needs" of flights along the Chinese coast, ensure flight safety, enhance the ability to respond to thunderstorms and improve normal flight operations.

Taiwan's Civil Aviation Administration said the measure seriously impacted aviation safety in Taiwanese airspace, calling it a unilateral move taken without consultation.

At its nearest point, close to Kinmen, there is only a 1.1 nautical mile distance between the Chinese and Taiwanese flight paths, it said.

"The airspace between the two sides is very small, and there are certain risks," it added.

CONTROLLED AIR SPACE

Taiwanese air traffic controllers will "strongly request" their Chinese counterparts guide any aircraft away when an aircraft approaches Taiwan's air space, it said.

Chinese aircraft are not permitted by Taiwan to fly in the airspace Taipei controls around Kinmen and Matsu.

The strait's median line had for years served as an unofficial demarcation between Taiwan and China and was not crossed by combat aircraft from either side.

But China says it does not recognize the line's existence and Chinese warplanes now regularly fly over it as Beijing seeks to pressure Taipei to accept its sovereignty claims.

Flights to and from Taiwan and China's Xiamen and Fuzhou take a circuitous route skirting the median line rather than flying directly across the strait. Domestic Taiwanese flights to Kinmen and Matsu fly directly across the strait.

Taiwan has complained about the M503 route before, in 2018, when it said China opened the northbound part of it without first informing Taipei in contravention of a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths.

The democratically elected government of Taiwan rejects China's sovereignty claims and says only the island's people can decide their future.


China Says It Opposes Any Action Escalating Tensions in Middle East 

Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran, April 19, 2024, in this screengrab taken from video. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran, April 19, 2024, in this screengrab taken from video. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
TT

China Says It Opposes Any Action Escalating Tensions in Middle East 

Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran, April 19, 2024, in this screengrab taken from video. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Military personnel stand guard at a nuclear facility in the Zardanjan area of Isfahan, Iran, April 19, 2024, in this screengrab taken from video. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

China opposes any action escalating tensions in the Middle East after the Israeli attack on Iran, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday.

Several countries had already warned that a retaliatory attack by Israel against recent Iranian strikes could risk dragging the entire region into a wider regional war.

Explosions echoed over an Iranian city on Friday in what sources described as an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation - a response that appeared gauged towards averting region-wide war.

The limited scale of the attack and Iran's muted response both appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working round the clock to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel last Saturday.

Iranian media and officials described a small number of explosions, which they said resulted from Iran's air defenses hitting three drones over the city of Isfahan. Notably, they referred to the incident as an attack by "infiltrators", rather than by Israel, obviating the need for retaliation.

An Iranian official told Reuters there were no plans to respond against Israel for the incident.


Ambrey: Ships Transiting the Gulf, Western Indian Ocean Should Stay Alert 

An Iranian drone is seen during the National Army Day parade ceremony in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via (Reuters
An Iranian drone is seen during the National Army Day parade ceremony in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via (Reuters
TT

Ambrey: Ships Transiting the Gulf, Western Indian Ocean Should Stay Alert 

An Iranian drone is seen during the National Army Day parade ceremony in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via (Reuters
An Iranian drone is seen during the National Army Day parade ceremony in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via (Reuters

British security firm Ambrey said on Friday merchant vessels transiting the Gulf and Western Indian Ocean were advised to stay alert in case of increased uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) activity in the region.

Ambrey said it had received information that indicated an "Israeli military strike" was conducted on Isfahan, Iran.

Earlier, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said it had seen similar reports but that there were no indications commercial maritime vessels were the intended target of the strike.

Oil prices jumped as high as $3 a barrel on Friday in reaction to reports of the strike, sparking concerns that Middle East oil supply could be disrupted. Brent crude gave up some of those gains, trading up 1.85% at $88.74 at 0551 GMT after reaching a high of $90.75.

Israel has attacked Iran, three people familiar with the matter said. Iranian state media reported early on Friday that its forces had destroyed drones, days after Iran launched a retaliatory drone strike on Israel.

Iran's Fars news agency reported three explosions were heard near an army base in the central city of Isfahan. An Iranian official told Reuters there was no missile attack and the explosions were the result of the activation of Iran's air defense systems.


Ukraine Says Russian Strikes on Dnipropetrovsk Region Kill at Least 8 

A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers working at the site of a rocket attack on a residential building in the city of Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, southeastern Ukraine, 19 April 2024, amid the Russian invasion. (EPA/State Emergency Service Handout Handout)
A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers working at the site of a rocket attack on a residential building in the city of Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, southeastern Ukraine, 19 April 2024, amid the Russian invasion. (EPA/State Emergency Service Handout Handout)
TT

Ukraine Says Russian Strikes on Dnipropetrovsk Region Kill at Least 8 

A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers working at the site of a rocket attack on a residential building in the city of Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, southeastern Ukraine, 19 April 2024, amid the Russian invasion. (EPA/State Emergency Service Handout Handout)
A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service shows Ukrainian rescuers working at the site of a rocket attack on a residential building in the city of Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, southeastern Ukraine, 19 April 2024, amid the Russian invasion. (EPA/State Emergency Service Handout Handout)

A major Russian missile attack on the central Dnipropetrovsk region killed at least eight people, injured 21 and damaged infrastructure facilities, local officials reported on Friday morning.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the attack damaged multiple storeys of a residential building and a train station in the regional capital, Dnipro, as he called for additional air defenses.

"Russia must be held accountable for its terror, and every missile, every Shahed must be shot down," Zelenskiy said. "The world can guarantee this, and our partners have the necessary capabilities."

State-run Ukrainian railways company Ukrzaliznytsia said Russia's attack deliberately targeted its infrastructure in the region, injuring its workers. The company closed its station in Dnipro and rerouted trains set to pass through the city.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said at least eight people died in the attack, two in Dnipro and six in Synelnykivskyi district of the region, where more than a dozen homes were damaged.


France, EU Call for De-Escalation After Reports of Israeli Attack on Iran 

Israel's military displays what they say is an Iranian ballistic missile which they retrieved from the Dead Sea after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, at Julis military base, in southern Israel April 16, 2024. (Reuters)
Israel's military displays what they say is an Iranian ballistic missile which they retrieved from the Dead Sea after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, at Julis military base, in southern Israel April 16, 2024. (Reuters)
TT

France, EU Call for De-Escalation After Reports of Israeli Attack on Iran 

Israel's military displays what they say is an Iranian ballistic missile which they retrieved from the Dead Sea after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, at Julis military base, in southern Israel April 16, 2024. (Reuters)
Israel's military displays what they say is an Iranian ballistic missile which they retrieved from the Dead Sea after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, at Julis military base, in southern Israel April 16, 2024. (Reuters)

France is calling for de-escalation in the Middle East crisis, Deputy French Foreign Minister Jean-Noel Barrot said on Friday, responding to reports that Israel launched an air attack on Iranian soil earlier that day.  

"All I can say is that France's position is to call on all actors for de-escalation and restraint," Barrot told Sud Radio. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also called on Iran, Israel and their allies to refrain from escalation in the Middle East. 

"It is absolutely necessary that the region remains stable and that all sides restrain from further action," von der Leyen said alongside Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in Lappeenranta, Finland, about 25 km (15 miles) from the Russian border. 


Türkiye Rejects Linking its EU Membership File to Cyprus Issue

The European flag waves in front of the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels, on March 25, 2021 (AFP)
The European flag waves in front of the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels, on March 25, 2021 (AFP)
TT

Türkiye Rejects Linking its EU Membership File to Cyprus Issue

The European flag waves in front of the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels, on March 25, 2021 (AFP)
The European flag waves in front of the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels, on March 25, 2021 (AFP)

Türkiye on Thursday rejected a European approach that links Ankara’s EU membership to the Cyprus issue.
Türkiye applied for EU membership in 1987 and has been a candidate country since 1999.
“The conclusions on Türkiye by the Special European Council held in Brussels on 17-18 April 2024 are yet another example of the EU's lack of strategic vision on Türkiye and global developments,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in an official statement.
It said Ankara will never accept an approach that links progress in Türkiye-EU relations to the ongoing dispute over Cyprus, stressing that the EU has a strategic interest in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Türkiye.
“In the coming period, we will review our dialogue with the EU on the basis of reciprocity, taking into account the pace, level and scope of the EU's steps towards Türkiye,” it added.
In the conclusions adopted on Türkiye this week, the Special European Council said, “The European Union has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Türkiye.”
It also called for progress in implementing the recommendations outlined in a joint report presented by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell with the European Commission in November 2023.
But Ankara said the conclusions on Türkiye are yet another example of the EU's lack of strategic vision on Türkiye and global developments.
“It is necessary to abandon an understanding which reduces these multifaceted relations to the Cyprus issue. Such a mentality cannot make a positive and constructive contribution to the problem, nor to the other regional and global issues,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
Borrell's report prepared with the European Commission concerning Türkiye suggested restarting Partnership Council and High-Level Political Forum meetings at the ministerial level, increasing the number of sectoral high-level dialogues on climate, health, migration and security, agriculture and research and innovation.
Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign ministry reiterated its commitment to the bloc’s membership. “However, we reject the selective limitation of bilateral cooperation to certain areas. In the coming period, we will review our dialogue with the EU on the basis of reciprocity, taking into account the pace, level and scope of the EU's steps toward Türkiye,” it said.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, stressed in a post on X how the EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Türkiye.
Elsewhere, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday that advancements in relations between the EU and Türkiye are linked to progress on the Cyprus problem.
“I am satisfied with the conclusions we have reached, which recognize the fact that relations between the European Union and Türkiye may progress, but always within the framework of the decisions taken by the European Council in recent years,” he said.
“I welcome the fact that there is an explicit reference linking the progress of EU-Türkiye relations with the progress that can be made on the Cyprus issue,” he added.
In a related development, Türkiye's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is scheduled to meet with his Dutch counterpart Hanke Bruins Slot in a visit to the Netherlands on Friday, marking the tenth edition of the Wittenburg Conference between the two countries.
“Minister Fidan and his Dutch counterpart will exchange views on bilateral relations, Türkiye-EU relations, and regional developments,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Türkiye and the Netherlands signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening Türkiye-Netherlands relations and establishing the Türkiye-Netherlands Conference in 2008.