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The EU needs Turkey to solve its problems, Minister Çelik says

THE EU NEEDS TURKEY TO SOLVE ITS PROBLEMS, MINISTER ÇELIK SAYS

Turkish EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik told reporters in Estonia that the European Union can't solve its own problems without Turkey.

Turkey's EU affairs minister said Friday that the European Union "can't solve its own problems without Turkey," urging more cooperation in the fight against terrorism and radicalization.

Speaking to journalists after the EU's ministerial meeting in Tallin, Estonia, Ömer Çelik said that Turkey is pushing for cooperation from the bloc on defending the country's democratic system from illegal groups.

But Turkey to date has not received such support against the terrorist PKK, or the FETO terrorist group -- responsible for last year's defeated coup, which martyred 250 people -- even as it cooperated with the EU on the migration crisis, Çelik said.

The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU -- resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015. Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians.

Çelik also called for opening new chapters in Turkey's EU accession talks, saying that if Turkey has problems with European values such as human rights, how can it resolve these issues without negotiating.

He especially urged the opening of Chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental rights and Chapter 24 on justice, freedom and security, but the EU has given no signal that it will do so.

On Turkey's political row with Germany, Çelik said Berlin's apparent wish to suspend Turkey's EU relations would not affect its candidacy to the bloc.

"Full membership in the EU is the state strategy," the minister said.

He called on the German politicians focusing on Ankara in their campaigning to instead turn to the public's desire for a good education and affordable housing.

The future of Turkey's EU membership talks has become a major topic in campaigning ahead of Germany's Sept. 24 parliamentary elections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for re-election, has pledged to raise the possibility of suspending or ending Turkey's EU membership talks at a summit in Brussels next month.

Her rival, Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz, has called for immediately halting Ankara's EU membership talks and freezing its €4 billion ($4.68 billion) in pre-accession funds.

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