Turkey and COP21, working on our shared challenges

Turkey and COP21, working on our shared challenges

Two important summits in two days: yesterday the EU leaders met with Turkey in Brussels, and today I am in Paris for the opening of the COP21 global conference on climate change.

These are challenging and tough times for both Europe and Turkey. From Syria to the Turkish domestic situation, and of course to the refugee crisis – there is much need for cooperation between us. It is vital that our dialogue with Ankara does not forget any of these issues, including media freedom, human rights and, crucially, the re-opening of the peace process with the Kurds. The revitalisation of Turkey’s accession talks with the EU must go together with all these key elements.

Our meeting in Brussels came on a sad day for Turkey: the day of Tahir Elci’s funeral. Years ago, when president Erdogan decided to restart the peace process with the Kurds, Europe supported his decision. We are ready to do the same now: peace between Ankara and the Kurds would be important for Turkey, first of all, but also for the whole region and for our European Union.

I am now writing from Paris. After the attacks of Friday 13th, it is important that the whole international community is gathering in this city to address a crucial issue such as climate change. For the coming days we will be discussing on the future – and the present – of our planet: climate change is happening now, and is already affecting our lives and our security. We need immediate action, and the European Union will do its best to reach a good and binding agreement here in Paris.

This first day of discussions here was also a good chance for me to meet a number of colleagues and partners (the meeting with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has just ended). Among them I also met Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The European Union and Israel are working together and will continue to do so: our European priority is to restart a meaningful peace process as soon as possible, and we are asking the Israeli and Palestinian governments to show leadership and courage. They should do their best not just to de-escalate tensions, but also to concretely improve the situation on the ground, and lay the foundations for a resumption of direct talks. It is in the interest of us Europeans, of the Palestinians and of the Israelis alike.