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The EU ought to search “constructive engagement” with Turkey in response to president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s re-election and the geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s conflict towards Ukraine, the bloc’s diplomatic arm has proposed.
Erdoğan final week referred to as for Brussels to re-engage with Turkey after years of frozen progress on its formal bid to turn into an EU member, linking the demand to his determination to raise a veto on EU member Sweden becoming a member of Nato.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has pressured a rethink of the EU’s angle to its neighbours. Ukraine and Moldova have each been designated official candidate nations and the long-stalled accession talks with six western Balkan states have gained recent impetus.
The brand new demand from Erdoğan — which EU officers mentioned boiled right down to his want for better entry to the EU customs union, visa liberalisation for Turkish residents and an extension of support to Ankara linked to migration administration — will probably be mentioned on Thursday by EU international ministers and knowledgeable by the diplomatic arm’s proposal.
The ministers’ conclusions will type the premise of a European Fee report on the EU-Turkey relationship that will probably be mentioned by EU leaders later this 12 months. “We’re not swallowing the membership demand line entire,” mentioned a senior EU official. “However there’s undoubtedly a willingness from many people to see the place we will do extra collectively.”
A €3bn funding bundle linked to Turkey’s internet hosting of Syrian refugees and discouraging them from travelling to Europe expires this 12 months, however two EU officers mentioned an extension of that was already baked into calculations over Brussels’ future budgetary necessities.
Progress on each visa liberalisation and Turkey’s participation within the bloc’s customs union is feasible, in keeping with individuals concerned within the talks. However this could require motion from Ankara on points equivalent to data-sharing and anti-terror laws, and commerce measures seen as protectionist by Brussels.
EU members Cyprus and Greece are against nearer relations that don’t embrace progress from Ankara on a UN-led initiative to normalise relations over the divided Mediterranean island. Some jap EU states are additionally irritated by Erdoğan’s failure to undertake western sanctions towards Russia and increase his commerce relationship with Moscow.
Others additionally stay involved about nearer ties with a rustic the place the EU has acknowledged that rule of regulation and the safety of human rights are “key issues”.
But the paper by the bloc’s diplomatic arm, seen by the Monetary Instances, referred to as on international ministers to take a look at the place “the EU might focus efforts on consolidating or growing its leverage in relations with Turkey”, given Ankara’s new “geopolitical relevance” since Russia’s invasion.
“Within the gentle of the shifting geopolitical context it is very important focus on the best way ahead on EU-Turkey relations within the brief to the medium time period,” it mentioned.
A second EU official famous “sure change in method from the brand new [Turkish] authorities, and we need to see the place we’d be capable of go together with that”. Erdoğan’s U-turn on Sweden was one plenty of strikes over current weeks which have “de-escalated” tensions between Ankara and the west, as Turkey seeks to lure again international traders and stem its financial disaster.
“[Turkey] at the least desires an open and frank determination on the troublesome points the place we’ve variations,” the official added.
Because of this, the bloc’s international ministers ought to focus on “additional alternatives for the EU to construct on current strands, equivalent to financial co-operation, migration administration and local weather change,” in keeping with the paper, “and think about steps of constructive engagement that might permit the EU to be simpler in . . . exploring prospects for cooperation.”
“The present geopolitical state of affairs might set off bridging divergences or opening new alternatives for focused co-operation on the premise of convergence of the EU and Turkey international coverage pursuits,” it added.