Sunday, 11 Apr 2021 - 29 of Nisan, 5781
EU

New start in EU’s relations with Turkey ?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

  “Today, we have a clear framework and we hope, we really hope, it will be possible to improve the relationship with Turkey but at the same time for us it is important that Turkey keep a positive behaviour, a moderate behaviour,” said European Council President Charles Michel during a press conference.’’

‘’The European Union is ready to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner to enhance cooperation in a number of areas of common interest and take further decisions at the European Council meeting in June,’’ EU leaders said in a statement Friday after a virtual conference.

The 27 leaders assessed the state of EU-Turkey relations in the broader context of recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and on other regional issues.

At their December 2020 summit meeting, EU leaders invited EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to submit a report on the state of play of EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations, and on instruments and options on how to proceed.

Borrell said that the EU has seen some positive developments over the last month on the part of Turkey, but that the situation remains fragile. He described the EU stance as a double-track approach: “On the one hand positive measures and on the other hand measures that can be taken if the situation deteriorates. Those measures have to be implemented in a gradual and progressive way to make them reversible. We’re trying to look for a positive engagement.”

The EU leaders statement recalled ‘’the European Union’s strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey.’’

‘’We welcome the recent de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean through the discontinuation of illegal drilling activities, the resumption of bilateral talks between Greece and Turkey and the forthcoming talks on the Cyprus problem under the auspices of the United Nations,’’ the statement added.

The restart of relations with Turkey will focus on some key issues like migration and trade.

On migration, the leaders launched a plan that aims to keep alive the 2016 agreement with Turkey, which has significantly reduced the arrival of refugees on the Greek islands. While the deal was initially funded with €6 billion, it now needs to be replenished — and Turkey is still hosting around 4 million Syrian refugees. The final document tasks the European Commission with presenting a proposal “for the continuation of financing for Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and other parts of the region.”

On economic matters, the final statement tasks the Council to “work on a mandate for the modernization of the Customs Union” that economically links the EU and Turkey.

Over recent years Turkey has escalated its rhetoric against the EU and taken unilateral actions including oil exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus and Greece are angry over Turkey’s regional behavior, an issue that has strained the EU’s relationship with Turkey — which remains a candidate to join the EU.

In February 2020, Turkey encouraged migrants and refugees to force their way into the EU through Greece. Tensions became so strained that Turkey and Greece set up “a bilateral military deconfliction mechanism” within NATO, to which both belong, hoping to keep the Eastern Mediterranean conflict from spiraling out of control.

EU leaders said that the EU was prepared to impose sanctions “to defend its interests and those of its member states” if Ankara backtracks.

Greece and Cyprus would like to see “more stick” and “less carrot” in the EU positions vis-à-vis Turkey, although they realise the bloc follows a coordinated approach with the US aimed to make sure Turkey remains an ally to the Western alliance, writes Georgi Gotev in Euractiv.

“Today, we have a clear framework and we hope, we really hope, it will be possible to improve the relationship with Turkey but at the same time for us it is important that Turkey keep a positive behaviour, a moderate behaviour,” said European Council President Charles Michel during a press conference.’’

“But we remain cautious and remain careful,” he added. Michel is likely to pay a visit to Turkey in April.

The EU statement was criticized by a group of human rights and community organisations. ‘’The statement issued by the European Council in response to the many aggressions of (Turkish) President Erdogan’s regime is, as expected, little more than a vague assertion that the bloc will be “vigilant”. Its supine language belongs to a parallel world uninhabited by ordinary people, particularly those suffering immeasurably under Erdogan’s vicious regime,’ they said.

‘’Erdogan continues to harbour Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and Hamas terrorists guilty of murdering Christians, Jews, Muslims and ‘infidels. He runs several malign networks throughout Europe,’’ the anti-Erdogan organisations said.

‘’Only strong actions will stop Erdogan’s authoritarian, imperialistic regime from hounding, hurting and harming more innocent people.’’

‘’Our coalition of 30 human rights and community organisations will continue to call upon European leaders to heed the will of parliament and impose “tough sanctions” on Erdogan’s regime.’’

Share.

About Author

Leave A Reply