The EU has taken step one, now Turkey has to reciprocate.
That was the message two of the EU’s high leaders conveyed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan throughout a gathering in Ankara on Tuesday.
Erdoğan sat down for almost two hours with European Council President Charles Michel and European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen to debate a resumption of coordination on a number of contentious points, together with migration and financial ties. The group was additionally joined by Turkish International Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
In the course of the assembly, Michel and von der Leyen detailed for Erdoğan the latest resolution — made eventually month’s EU leaders’ summit — to renew cooperation with Turkey on quite a lot of issues. The transfer got here as tensions with Ankara have decreased after peaking final 12 months over Turkey’s provocative actions towards EU members Cyprus and Greece.
“In latest months, now we have witnessed a de-escalation,” Michel mentioned throughout a press convention with von der Leyen after the assembly. “We have now instructed President Erdoğan that the EU is able to put a concrete and constructive agenda on the desk, primarily based on three pillars: financial cooperation, migration and people-to-people contacts and mobility.”
He added: “We hope that Turkey will seize this window of alternative.”
After the assembly, technical specialists joined the leaders for a lunch, officers mentioned. Each side described an excellent environment all through the summit.
Nonetheless, the encounter was not with out its awkward moments. When the three leaders gathered for the ceremonial photo-op upon arrival, there have been solely two chairs positioned in entrance of the Turkey and EU flags. The setup left von der Leyen trying barely perplexed as soon as Michel took the seat designated for the EU facet. She ended up relegated to a close-by sofa.
At her press convention with Michel, nonetheless, von der Leyen despatched a constructive message.
“We need to transfer ahead in the direction of significantly better relations sooner or later,” she mentioned, whereas cautioning, “we’re at the start of this highway and the weeks and months forward will present how far we will go.”
The get-together was the primary try to start out implementing a purpose EU leaders set at their March assembly: Reengage with Turkey.
At that gathering, amongst different issues, EU leaders requested the Fee “to accentuate talks” with Turkey to handle difficulties within the implementation of the European customs union whereas inviting the Council to work on a mandate for its modernization. In an announcement, leaders mentioned the reengagement ought to unfold in a “phased, proportionate and reversible method.”
EU leaders additionally requested the Fee to analysis new funding strategies for a migration deal the bloc struck with Turkey 5 years in the past. The deal, initially backed by €6 billion, considerably decreased the arrival of refugees on the Greek islands. However the cash has began to run dry and must be replenished, particularly with Ankara nonetheless internet hosting about 4 million Syrian refugees.
Whereas tensions between the EU and Turkey have eased, the bloc stays anxious by what one senior EU diplomat described as Erdoğan’s “erratic habits.”
The March settlement to work with Turkey “is fragile,” the diplomat argued, and extra sanctions stay an possibility if Turkey resumes a few of its aggressive habits.
“If he continues, then it will get sophisticated to have the unanimity to go forward” with the cooperation plan, the diplomat mentioned.
Turkey angered EU members final 12 months in some ways, together with when it escalated long-running territorial disputes with Cyprus and Greece. In August and October, Turkey deployed a seismic analysis vessel close to the Greek island of Kastellorizo, pushing the 2 NATO allies to the brink of a doable conflict.
And just some days in the past, Turkish Power Minister Fatih Dönmez mentioned Ankara will quickly resume its seismic and drilling actions within the Japanese Mediterranean. However EU diplomats stress that Ankara hasn’t mentioned the place, precisely, the drilling will happen. Some diplomats insist they’re comparatively assured Turkey received’t resume hostile actions towards Greece or Cyprus forward of the subsequent assembly of EU leaders in June — when the connection with Ankara will once more be on the desk.
Turkey stays a candidate nation for accession to the EU, however its bid is hampered by mounting considerations over its lack of respect for human rights, judicial independence and press freedom.
In a latest report from the Fee and the European Exterior Motion Service, the bloc’s diplomatic physique, Ankara was criticized for its “main backsliding on reforms” in areas just like the rule of regulation. And on the finish of final month, Erdoğan withdrew his nation from a global treaty to guard girls, the Istanbul Conference.
Von der Leyen and Michel mentioned they raised these points with Erdoğan throughout their assembly.
“Human rights points are usually not negotiable,” von der Leyen mentioned. “We have been very clear on that.” And Michel confused that he shared with Erdoğan “our deep worries” for human rights.