Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was on Haberturk TV on Friday evening to answer questions about the current topics on the agenda including the oil export deal with Irbil, EU-Turkey readmission agreement, relations with Armenia, and Turkey's foreign policy. In response to a question about how much further the Ankara-Irbil oil export deal could go without creating any concerns on the part of the central Iraqi government, Davutoglu said that he hoped that Baghdad and Irbil would make legal regulations regarding sharing of energy and resources without any problems being reflected on Turkey. Stressing that Turkey's biggest challenge was its requirement for more energy resources for its growing economy, Davutoglu said: "If you are planning Turkey's future, and your goal is to be among the top 10 largest economies of the world, then you need to know both your strengths and weaknesses. Our biggest strength is manpower, and our weakness is energy resources. To maximize manpower, we need visa liberalization so that people can travel freely to anywhere in the world. And to increase energy resources, you would obviously want all energy lines to lead to Turkey". Davutoglu also noted that they supported the lifting of sanctions against Iran since it would lead to a drop in oil and gas prices, and allow Turkey to buy the cheapest energy available from its neighbor who has the largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Regarding a question about the possibility of a visa-free travel to northern Iraq, Davutoglu said that the border crossing procedure between Turkey and Iraq needs to be simplified in a manner similar to the travel procedure among EU countries so that it is barely noticeable.
"Hopefully, one day people will be able to travel to Irbil without a visa, just like they can when travelling to Georgia. One day this will also be true for Aleppo and other cities as long as we continue to pursue our vision," Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu also gave details about the readmission agreement to be signed with the European Union on December 16, saying that this agreement dealt with the returning of third-country nationals irregularly entering and/or residing on Turkey and EU territories.
"After the readmission agreement is signed, we will not readmit foreign illegal migrants for a term of 3 years, therefore not bear additional liabilities. In the meantime, we will keep working on modernizing our system, and share any financial burdens that could arise with the EU. The EU has allocated 500 million EUR for this purpose only," Davutoglu noted.
Davutoglu said that in order for an EU country to return anybody to Turkey, they would have to prove that the third-country national in question entered EU via Turkey, and even then, they would be readmitted after certain guarantees are ensured.
Adding that the costs of those third-country nationals who could not go back to their countries either for financial or security reasons would be shared with EU, Davutoglu said that the readmission of up to a few thousand asylum seekers at most would in turn give 75 million Turkish citizens the right to travel to Europe without a visa.
Regarding the concerns that any EU country might veto visa exemption, Davutoglu said that the decision would be based on a majority-based voting in order to prevent such a possibility.
Underlining that the agreement has been negotiated very carefully, Davutoglu said: "Let's say the majority of the countries did not keep their promises. Then Turkey would be able to terminate the agreement. All guarantees have been put in place."
In response to a question about Turkey's relations with Armenia, Davutoglu said: "Even if we establish a perfect relationship with Armenia, this would be jeopardized unless a peaceful environment is settled in southern Caucasus."
Davutoglu further said that considering the good relations Turkey has been enjoying recently with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkmenistan and Russia, the only missing link is Armenia: "We do not want such isolation. If Armenia wishes to be a part of this picture, then they need to respect the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," Davutoglu noted.
Regarding criticisms against the alleged "resetting" of Turkish foreign policy, Davutoglu said: "They are ignoring the change in Iran after Rouhani came to power. If there is a change to Iran's foreign policy, Turkey would naturally read into it carefully, and review (its own foreign policy)".
Dismissing any resetting, Davutoglu went on to say: "We are further enriching a just and principled foreign policy in consideration of the new attitudes of other actors in a dynamic conjuncture. This is where Turkey derives its power from. Consistency in principles, flexibility in methods, and effectiveness in implementation."