EU trapped in Turkey’s disputes with France and Greece
Against a backdrop of growing tensions between Turkey and some EU member states, bloc political director Josep Borrell paid a two-day visit to Ankara this week. A number of issues were on its agenda for discussion, including the war in Libya, the refugee crisis, friction in the eastern Mediterranean and the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey’s relations with France and Greece deteriorated, and Borrell was tasked not only with responding to grievances, but also with easing tensions.
His visit came a week before the extraordinary sessions of the European Parliament and the EU Foreign Affairs Council which should take place after the French authorities’ calls for new sanctions against Ankara in response to the latter’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu used Borrell’s visit to warn the EU that Ankara would retaliate if sanctions were imposed.
“We are observing that Turkey will be on the EU agenda in the coming days,” he said at a joint press conference with Borrell on July 6 in Ankara. “Making decisions against Turkey will not solve the existing problems; on the contrary, it will deepen them.
“If the EU takes additional measures against Turkey, we will have to react. If you punish Turkey more, we also have measures to take on the ground, in the eastern Mediterranean. “
Borrell’s visit also included a meeting with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
The EU was drawn into escalating the dispute between Paris and Ankara over the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, after the former called on the 27-member bloc to take a stand against Turkey. France and Greek Greece also played an important role in blocking Turkey’s application for EU membership by placing political obstacles.
Borrell recognized that the ties between the EU and Turkey are far from ideal and that immediate and serious problems must be resolved.
“We need to change the dynamics of our relationship. We need to take a more positive path in order to avoid further problems, ”he said.
The first decade of the 2000s was a defining period in relations between Turkey and Europe, as Ankara began to implement EU-related reforms. The Turkish authorities have defended the idea that membership would not be a burden for the bloc but that it would benefit from it, as it would help to share the burden of the difficulties encountered by the union.
Unfortunately, this honeymoon did not last. Frustrated by the barriers to admission imposed by some members and the lack of progress in the negotiations, Ankara seemed to become more and more Eurosceptic despite its generally pro-EU position. This was evident not only at the political level but also at the level of society, as the support of the Turkish people for EU membership began to decline.
Relations between Turkey and EU member states are affected by bilateral, regional and global problems. Since the failure of the EU accession talks, Turkey has redefined its bilateral relations mainly by taking advantage of border security and migration management.
However, Ankara takes a diverse approach to its bilateral relations with EU members. For example, it marks a fine line in its relations with Italy: the Italian Minister of Defense recently visited Turkey, officials in Rome expressed their support for the Turkish intervention in Libya, and the senior diplomat Italian recently went to Ankara for interviews.
Regionally, the eastern Mediterranean, Libya and Syria are key issues affecting EU security and stability, and a dialogue with Ankara is needed to resolve them, a point raised by Borrell. While some EU members see Turkey as a threat, others believe it offers significant economic and security benefits.
There is a long history of relations between Turkey and the EU, and it is difficult to predict how they might develop in the future.
Globally, the mutual frustration felt by Turkey and the West, including the EU and the United States, has greatly influenced Ankara’s pivot to Russia.
The cooling of relations between Turkey and the EU is also linked to developments within the bloc itself. The refugee crisis, caused by regional developments, has led the EU to abandon the values it had promoted for decades. This has created fertile ground for the growth of right-wing populist parties that contradict liberal and democratic institutions and processes – the very foundation on which the main pillars of European values, such as human rights, democracy, rest. tolerance, inclusiveness and multiculturalism. . As a result, expansion is no longer seen as the standard solution to problems affecting the continent and European values are openly flouted in several member countries.
There is a long history of relations between Turkey and the EU, and it is difficult to predict how they might develop in the future. Turkey is located in an area where a single incident can trigger a domino effect that changes the landscape of the entire region; Arab uprisings, for example, continue to affect regional balances.
How will the war in Syria take place? Will instability in Libya soon be corrected? How long will tensions persist in the eastern Mediterranean? How will the role of the world powers, Russia, China and the United States, evolve in the years to come? These are all questions to which there are no clear answers at the moment.
- Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst specializing in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East. Twitter: @SinemCngz
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