BRATISLAVA - EU foreign ministers and Turkey on Saturday stressed the need to improve ties badly strained by July’s failed coup but differences over Ankara’s massive crackdown and rights record remained evident.

Turkey is a major European Union partner and candidate member but it has been incensed by what it sees as a lack of support from Brussels and its criticism that the post-coup clampdown could undermine the rule of law. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said after bloc foreign ministers met Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik that they had made clear the two sides should try to put recent tensions behind them.

“The main message all shared is first of all, the strong recommitment to dialogue; that we talk less about each and more with each other,” Mogherini told a press conference at the end of the two-day foreign ministers meeting in Bratislava.

“We agreed that all previous agreements will be respected, be it on visa liberalisation, the customs union, the management of refugee flows ... all tracks will continue,” she said.

At the same time, she said that because Turkey is an EU candidate country it is expected to live up to EU values, citing rule of law, media freedom “and of course the death penalty.”

Capital punishment is banned throughout the EU and Brussels has made clear that its possible reinstatement in Turkey would be a complete bar to membership.

In March, the EU signed an accord with Turkey promising speeded-up accession talks, visa-free travel and three billion euros in aid in return for Ankara’s help in ending the massive influx of migrants, mostly from Syria, heading to the EU.

The accord has largely stopped the migrants, but progress on visa liberalisation has stalled on EU concerns Turkey’s anti-terror laws violate the bloc’s human rights norms.

Celik said separately that “cooperation between the EU and Turkey should not be narrowed down to anti-terror cooperation or migration cooperation, it should go beyond that.”

“After the attempted coup, the EU and Turkey should continue to focus on a positive agenda and we should further enhance our cooperation around our common political values,” he said.

Celik said Turkey would stick by the March refugee agreement but also warned that if the situation in Syria and Iraq deteriorated, it might not be enough and Ankara might not be so forthcoming again.

“We need new mechanisms but without visa liberalisation, Turkey would not be very keen to take steps towards new mechanisms,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “Do not expect Turkey to make any changes to the anti-terror law,” he said.

As for the death penalty, “it is not on the (parliament) agenda ... but we are politicians and we cannot turn a deaf ear to public opinion,” he added.

Mogherini is due to visit Turkey on Friday along with EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.