UPDATE 2 – European Court of Justice keeps PKK on terror list

UPDATES WITH STATEMENT FROM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY

By Serife Cetin and Ecenur Colak

BRUSSELS/ANKARA (AA) – European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled to keep the PKK on EU's terror list.

Concluding a legal case opened by the terrorist organization, the subsidiary court ruled that while the group had been kept on the list due to procedural errors between 2014 and 2017, new legal measures by the Council of Europe stipulated that it must remain there still.

The PKK had applied to the court in May 2014 in order to be relieved of the restrictions placed upon it due to the terror attacks it had carried out.

It has been on the EU terror list since 2002.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.

Meanwhile, the EU delegation to Turkey said in a statement: “The decision on the listing of the PKK by the General Court of the EU does not change anything. PKK still remains in the terrorist organizations list of the EU.”

Later on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy welcomed the EU decision.

“PKK is a separatist terrorist organization and it will continue to be treated by the international community as a terrorist organization deserve,” said Aksoy in a statement.

He said the efforts to cover up the PKK terrorist organization’s character will bear no fruit.

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UPDATE – Turkey, EU to hold high-level meeting next week

UPDATES WITH TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT; CHANGES DECK; EDITS THROUGHOUT

By Sena Guler

ANKARA (AA) – A high-level meeting between Turkey and the EU will be held on Nov. 22 in the capital Ankara, the country’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

"During the meetings between the Turkish delegation […] and the EU side […] the main issues in our relations with the EU, namely our accession process, as well as the economy, trade, financial cooperation, energy, Customs Union, fight against terrorism, security issues, migration and visa liberalization will be discussed," the ministry said in a statement.

Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community (a precursor to the EU) in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005.

The Turkish delegation will include the Directorate for EU Affairs, which will be led by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the statement said.

The EU side will be represented by Federica Mogherini, the bloc's foreign policy chief; and Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, it added.

"At the meeting, an exchange of views on the Balkans, Syria, Iraq, the Middle East Peace Process as well as other regional and international issues will also take place," the ministry said.

Earlier, speaking at a conference in Turkey's northern Samsun province, head of the EU delegation to Turkey Ambassador Christian Berger also mentioned about the upcoming meeting.

Berger said a political dialogue between the two sides will be initiated, following the meeting.

He said meetings on transportation, energy and economy will be held after the beginning of the political dialogue.

He added they also expect a presidential-level meeting next year during Romanian presidency of the EU Council.

*Ilyas Gun in Samsun contributed to the story.

UK: May vows to continue with her Brexit deal

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday vowed to continue with her Brexit deal.

Thanking Dominic Raab and Esther McVey, two cabinet ministers who resigned earlier, May said she was sorry to see her colleagues leaving the government.

“Serving in high office is an honor and a privilege”, but also a heavy responsibility, she said.

Underlining that negotiating Brexit has been a matter of highest consequences, she said: “it touches every area of our national life,” and her approach has been to put “national interest first.

May said the deal approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday “delivers what people have voted for”.

She said: "I believe with every fiber of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people.

"From the very beginning, I have known what I wanted to deliver for the British people to honour their vote in the referendum."

She said nobody can foresee consequences if they do not continue with the deal.

The British people “just want us to get on with it,” she the prime minister added.

May said she will do her job of getting the best deal on Brexit and then MPs will do their jobs when the deal is brought to the House of Commons.

She said the emergency Brexit EU summit will go ahead as planned.

– Resignations

Multiple ministers, including the Brexit secretary, resigned on Thursday saying they could not support Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, which the Cabinet approved with majority vote on Wednesday.

"Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary," Dominic Raab said.

"I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her," he added.

Another Cabinet minister Esther McVey followed Raab and resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary, saying she could not support the deal.

”Earlier this morning I informed the prime minister I was resigning from her Cabinet,” she said.

Five other junior ministers also resigned on Thursday.

– Letter of no confidence

Following the resignations and a statement by May in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has sent a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee.

Speaking to the media outside the parliament, Rees-Mogg said the government should go back to Brussels and tell them that the U.K. will leave without a deal, and trade on the terms of the World Trade Organization.

“Regrettably, the draft withdrawal agreement presented to parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative party manifesto,” he said in the letter.

“It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place,” he wrote.

He added: “Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative party and the 1922 committee this is a formal letter of no confidence in the leader of the party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.”

A vote to end May’s leadership will need at least 48 letters in total before it can be initiated.

– The draft deal

Under the proposed deal, the EU accepted the idea of whole-U.K. customs union with the bloc in a major concession to please U.K.'s demands to protect its territorial integrity.

A previous EU version of backstop would keep Northern Ireland anchored in the EU single market and customs union until a solution is found on the border issue in the island of Ireland.

In return, Britain is reported to have agreed that it will not be allowed to exit the backstop unless and until the EU is convinced that there is no prospect of a return to a hard border.

The EU said an emergency Brexit summit will be held on Nov. 25 in Brussels.

The U.K. is set to leave the EU in March 2019.

Turkey, EU to hold high-level meeting next week

By Ilyas Gun

SAMSUN, Turkey (AA) – A high-level meeting between Turkey and the EU will be held next week, an EU official said on Thursday.

Speaking at a conference in Turkey's northern Samsun province, head of the EU delegation to Turkey Ambassador Christian Berger said a political dialogue between the EU and Turkey will be initiated, following the meeting.

Berger said meetings on transportation, energy and economy will be held after the beginning of the political dialogue.

He added they also expect a presidential-level meeting next year during Romanian presidency of the EU Council.

Hungarian PM: Europe needs Turkey

By Emrah Oktay

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AA) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday that Europe needs Turkey.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to the Tomb of Gul Baba in Budapest, Orban said the western media is criticizing Turkey "unfairly" and Hungary does not support educating anyone on how to run their country.

"There should be strategic cooperation between Turkey and the EU on security and economy. Europe also needs Turkey," Orban said.

Orban agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that Turkey will be among the top 10 economies of the world in the following years.

"We have to cooperate with Turkey as much as we can for the interests of Europe," he said.

Orban also said that the Tomb of Gul Baba is equally important for both the Turks and the Hungarians.

Gul Baba — which means Father of Roses — was an Ottoman Bektashi dervish poet and a companion of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent

He died in Budapest in the 16th century, when the region was ruled by the Ottomans.

The Ottoman-era tomb was built between 1543 and 1548 in Budapest.

The tomb was restored by a Turkish-Hungarian partnership after a protocol was signed in 2014.

*Fatih Hafız Mehmet contributed to this story from Ankara.

UPDATE 4 – UK: Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary

CHANGES DECK; UPDATES WITH LETTER OF NO CONFIDENCE FROM CONSERVATIVE MP

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Multiple ministers, including the Brexit secretary, resigned on Thursday saying they could not support Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, which the Cabinet approved with majority vote on Wednesday.

"Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary," Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

"I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her," he wrote.

Raab said in his resignation letter that he could not support the proposed deal because of two reasons.

“First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom,” he said.

“Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit,” Raab added.

Raab has become the second Brexit secretary to resign from May’s Cabinet. His predecessor David Davis resigned in July over his varied views on Brexit from those of the prime minister’s after the revelation of the Chequers — a roadmap Brexit plan by May.

“Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” Raab said.

– Letter of no confidence

Following the resignations and a statement by May in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Jacop Rees-Mogg has sent a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee.

Speaking to the press outside the parliament, Rees-Mogg said the government should go back to Brussels and tell them that the U.K. will leave without a deal, and trade on the terms of the World Trade Organization.

“Regrettably, the draft withdrawal agreement presented to parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative party manifesto,” he said in the letter.

“It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place,” he wrote.

He added: “Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative party and the 1922 committee this is a formal letter of no confidence in the leader of the party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.”

A vote to end May’s leadership will need at least 48 letters in total before such a vote can be initiated.

– Other resignations

Another Cabinet minister Esther McVey also followed Raab and resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary, saying she could not support the deal.

“Earlier this morning I informed the prime minister I was resigning from her Cabinet,” she said on Twitter.

Some junior ministers including Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, Brexit minister Suealla Braverman and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a ministerial aide at the education department also resigned Thursday morning.

The draft Brexit deal reached between the U.K. and EU was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

May described the draft agreement as “the best that could be negotiated”.

– Parliament statement

Making a statement in the House of Commons following the resignations, Prime Minister May defended the draft agreement.

She said the withdrawal detail shows how the U.K. will leave the EU in 134 days’ time and the Irish border issue will best be solved through the future relationship.

On the future partnership with the EU, May said that the free movement will end but “no other advanced economy has such good access to the EU for goods.”

Underlining that the U.K. will leave the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, May added that there will be a “close and flexible” partnership on defense and security with the union.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was “in chaos”, and even May’s own Brexit secretary did not support the deal reached with the EU — referring to the earlier resignation of Raab.

Signalling that the labour would not support the deal in the upcoming parliament vote, Corbyn said that after two years of negotiations “all the government has agreed is a vague, seven-page document on the future.”

– 'Deal is dead in the water'

Scottish National Party leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford said Scotland was not mentioned once in the document and “the deal is dead in the water.”

Conservative MP Mark Francois said there are 84 more Tory MPs who would not vote for the deal and mathematically the deal cannot pass the House of Common.

The agreement was “dead on arrival”, he said, urging May to accept “the political reality”.

May said when a deal is brought back it will be for MPs to consider, and it will be their duty to deliver on the vote of the British people.

Under the proposed deal, the EU accepted the idea of whole-U.K. customs union with the bloc in a major concession to please U.K.'s demands to protect its territorial integrity.

A previous EU version of backstop would keep Northern Ireland anchored in the EU single market and customs union until a solution is found on the border issue in the island of Ireland.

In return, Britain is reported to have agreed that it will not be allowed to exit the backstop unless and until the EU is convinced that there is no prospect of a return to a hard border.

The EU said an emergency Brexit summit will be held on Nov. 25 in Brussels.

The U.K. is set to leave the EU in March 2019.

Brexit strengthens Scottish independence case: Sturgeon

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Brexit has strengthened the case of Scottish independence, said First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday.

Sturgeon’s remarks came shortly after two major cabinet ministers resigned from the U.K. Cabinet over a draft Brexit deal reached with the EU.

Speaking at the Scottish parliament, Sturgeon said the proposed deal will place Scotland at a real competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland.

“This is not an academic or abstract argument but has real consequences for jobs and living standards in Scotland,” she said.

“The Tory government is imploding as we speak, people the length and breadth of the U.K. are seriously worried about their jobs and their living standards on the line because of the ideology of this Tory government and the complete shambles they have made of the negotiations,” Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon said that Brexit makes the case for independence grow stronger every day although, as usual, she won’t be drawn on timing of another referendum.

“That time will come and when it does I have no doubt that the people of Scotland will choose to be independent,” she added.

Earlier in the House of Commons, Scottish National Party leader in Westminster Ian Blackford described the deal as “dead in the water,” accusing the central Westminster government for not consulting devolved government in Scotland on the draft deal.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigned from the Cabinet, saying they could not support the deal.

Three junior ministers also resigned on Thursday.

Sturgeon has been critical of Prime Minister Theresa May over lack of consultation on Brexit issues and negotiations with the EU, often saying Brexit will be an absolute catastrophe for Scottish economy.

Scottish voters opted to remain in the U.K. as slightly more than 55 percent voted to stay in the U.K. in a 2014 referendum.

In 2016 EU referendum, Scots voted to remain in the EU by 62 percent to 38 percent.

UPDATE 3 – UK: Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary

UPDATES WITH OTHER RESIGNATIONS, PRIME MINISTER’S PARLIAMENT STATEMENT

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Multiple ministers, including the Brexit secretary, resigned on Thursday saying they could not support Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, which the Cabinet approved with majority vote on Wednesday.

"Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary," Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

"I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her," he wrote.

Raab said in his resignation letter that he could not support the proposed deal because of two reasons.

“First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom,” he said.

“Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit,” Raab added.

Raab has become the second Brexit secretary to resign from May’s Cabinet. His predecessor David Davis resigned in July over his varied views on Brexit from those of the prime minister’s after the revelation of the Chequers — a roadmap Brexit plan by May.

“Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” Raab said.

– Other resignations

Another Cabinet minister Esther McVey also followed Raab and resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary, saying she could not support the deal.

“Earlier this morning I informed the prime minister I was resigning from her Cabinet,” she said on Twitter.

Some junior ministers including Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, Brexit minister Suealla Braverman and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a ministerial aide at the education department also resigned Thursday morning.

The draft Brexit deal reached between the U.K. and EU was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

May described the draft agreement as “the best that could be negotiated”.

– Parliament statement

Making a statement in the House of Commons following the resignations, Prime Minister May defended the draft agreement.

She said the withdrawal detail shows how the U.K. will leave the EU in 134 days’ time and the Irish border issue will best be solved through the future relationship.

On the future partnership with the EU, May said that the free movement will end but “no other advanced economy has such good access to the EU for goods.”

Underlining that the U.K. will leave the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, May added that there will be a “close and flexible” partnership on defense and security with the union.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was “in chaos”, and even May’s own Brexit secretary did not support the deal reached with the EU — referring to the earlier resignation of Raab.

Signalling that the labour would not support the deal in the upcoming parliament vote, Corbyn said that after two years of negotiations “all the government has agreed is a vague, seven-page document on the future.”

– 'Deal is dead in the water'

Scottish National Party leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford said Scotland was not mentioned once in the document and “the deal is dead in the water.”

Conservative MP Mark Francois said there are 84 more Tory MPs who would not vote for the deal and mathematically the deal cannot pass the House of Common.

The agreement was “dead on arrival”, he said, urging May to accept “the political reality”.

May said when a deal is brought back it will be for MPs to consider, and it will be their duty to deliver on the vote of the British people.

Under the proposed deal, the EU accepted the idea of whole-U.K. customs union with the bloc in a major concession to please U.K.'s demands to protect its territorial integrity.

A previous EU version of backstop would keep Northern Ireland anchored in the EU single market and customs union until a solution is found on the border issue in the island of Ireland.

In return, Britain is reported to have agreed that it will not be allowed to exit the backstop unless and until the EU is convinced that there is no prospect of a return to a hard border.

The EU said an emergency Brexit summit will be held on Nov. 25 in Brussels.

The U.K. is set to leave the EU in March 2019.

NATO: EU army can’t be an alternative

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN (AA) – A European army cannot be an alternative to NATO, the military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

Stoltenberg cautioned European allies against duplicating military efforts, in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, following calls by the French president and German chancellor for the creation of an EU army.

“The Europeans have already made it clear that their attempts for common defense would reinforce the European pillar of NATO. So long as this continues, I welcome these European efforts,” he said.

“But a European army cannot be an alternative to NATO. The NATO alliance is already serving as a platform for cooperation between our European allies, such as in Kosovo or in the Aegean Sea,” he added.

The NATO secretary general stressed that European efforts for common defense should be complimentary to NATO.

“For me it’s important that the EU would not duplicate what NATO is already doing. I welcome European efforts within NATO. More than 90 percent of EU citizens are living in countries which are also NATO Members. One cannot strengthen European defense, without strengthening NATO,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO and the EU currently have 22 member countries in common.

Turkish Cyprus celebrates 35th foundation anniversary

LEFKOSA (AA) – The 35th anniversary of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is being celebrated on Thursday.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay attended a ceremony alongside Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci, Prime Minister Tufan Erhurman and Turkish Cypriot Parliament Speaker Teberruken Ulucay.

The ceremony was held in front of the Ataturk monument in the capital Lefkosa, where a minute of silence was observed, which was followed by the Turkish national anthem.

Speaking at the event, Oktay said the reason for the lack of resolution on the island was the "irreconcilable attitude" of the Greek side.

"The state you [Turkish Cypriots] have founded is one of the equal two founding parts of the island. The efforts by the Greek Cypriot side to dilute this truth have not been permitted until today, and will not be henceforth," he said.

Since 1968, the Greek side has continually rejected steps taken during international negotiations and have put forward impossible preconditions.

The island has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

The TRNC was established on 15 Nov. 1983 to prevent the eastern Mediterranean island’s annexation by Greece and to protect its Turkish population.

The “Annan Plan”, put forward by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was put to a referendum on both sides of the island by then-leaders Rauf Denktas and Tasos Papadopoulos.

While the plan was rejected by more than 70 percent of the Greek side, 60 percent of the island’s Turks approved it despite the many hardships it would entail.

Despite the failure of the plan, the EU admitted the Greek side with full membership on the day following the ballot, totally ignoring the existence of the other half of the island.

Numerous negotiations opened from 2005 to 2016 would also fail, with talks falling out in 2013 due to the Greek Cypriot government’s unilateral declaration of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean and initiation of drilling activities in search of hydrocarbons in the region.