Speaking at a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Rome, Cavusoglu said that EU membership remained a strategic goal for Turkey, although the process had long been delayed.

"When [Turkey's] EU process started I was not born yet. It is a [nearly] 60 year-process. I am not 60 yet," he said. "It is now time to make a decision."

Cavusoglu said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would meet with top EU officials in Brussels on Thursday, and these meetings were important for the future of Turkey-EU relations.

He added Turkey's relations with the bloc was not just restricted to membership but involved other issues including migration, and the fight against terror.

The minister recalled the refugee deal signed between the 28-member bloc and Turkey in March 2016, which he said, contributed to a 99 percent drop in the number of illegal migrants to the continent.

The deal aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

"We agreed [with EU] in March last year. [Illegal] Migration went down 99%. This means that Turkey is keeping its promises.

"When Erdogan makes a promise, he keeps it. We have never turned back on our promises", he said.

Cavusoglu added Turkey was a "very important country" in the fight against terror, as well as other issues including Syria.

The minister also commented on the recent suicide attack in Manchester, which claimed 22 lives.

"Manchester attack showed once more that terror does not have a religion or race," Cavusoglu said, reiterating his call for a joint fight against terrorism.

Turning to Turkey-Italy relations, Cavusoglu said both countries had been affected by illegal migration and "paid a high price".

"We are cooperating to solve this problem. Today we have decided to form a joint working group to fight against [human] smugglers," he said.

Italian Foreign Minister Alfano, for his part, said they had a long discussion with Cavusoglu about the fight against terror.

"Turkey is at the front in the fight against terrorism," he said, adding Italy and Turkey would further cooperate in this area.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

Negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue. The German and French governments also opposed the country’s full EU membership.

To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

Anadolu Agency