Turkey slides down the EU’s agenda
In an exertion to make improvements to its relations with EU nations around the world, Turkey previous year withdrew its seismic exploration ship from the eastern Mediterranean, while professing that this withdrawal was only for servicing needs. Even so, it is unclear what will transpire when the routine maintenance is comprehensive.
Relations with Turkey ended up the dominant agenda merchandise at past week’s EU summit. However, the chapter dealing with Turkey in the final communique was titled “East Mediterranean,” suggesting that the bloc is not interested in Ankara on troubles other than the condition in this location.
Oil and gasoline exploration in the jap Mediterranean is a sophisticated issue for motives other than the maintenance of the seismic exploration ship. In 2018, Turkey and Libya’s Federal government of National Accord signed a memorandum of understanding demarcating their maritime jurisdiction areas, developing a contiguous Turkish-Libyan space separating the eastern Mediterranean from the remainder of the sea. In accordance to this disputed settlement, if fuel is to be extracted from the jap Mediterranean to be transported to Europe by a pipeline laid on the seabed, it has to cross Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction location, therefore requiring Ankara’s consent.
The EU manufactured distinct in the closing communique adhering to previous week’s summit that it is completely ready to engage with Turkey in a “phased, proportionate and reversible method to increase cooperation in a quantity of places.” This wording gives progress warning to Ankara that the EU may possibly get more selections at its future summit in June.
An additional essential issue in the EU communique was the reference to updating the Turkey-EU customs union arrangement, which entered into pressure at the stop of 1995. This subject has two elements. A single is Turkey’s insistent request to stop trade diversion from nations around the world with which the EU has a cost-free trade settlement (FTA). This is for the reason that the industrial commodities of these types of third international locations can enter the Turkish market devoid of becoming subjected to customs responsibilities mainly because of Turkey’s customs settlement with the EU. But if Turkey does not have its possess FTA with that 3rd nation, it has to pay back customs obligation in get to export its industrial merchandise to that place. Ankara has insisted that the EU ought to make it a problem for such nations to indicator a comparable agreement with Turkey, but the bloc has so far turned a deaf ear to this recommendation.
The EU’s aim in updating the customs union is not the elimination of the trade diversion, but to guarantee that Turkey recognizes the Greek Cypriot condition.
The 2nd is connected to the EU’s indirect pressure on Turkey to acknowledge Cyprus as a state. The Republic of Cyprus was created in 1960 with Turkey as 1 of its 3 guarantors, alongside with Greece and the Uk. According to the constitutional treaties developing the point out, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots are two “politically equal” components of the republic. The Greek Cypriots refuse this equal standing and insist on treating the Turkish Cypriots as a minority.
Now, by employing the customs union settlement as a instrument, the EU forces Turkey to indirectly identify the point out of Cyprus. This arrangement is formulated in the final communique as follows: “On financial cooperation, we (the EU leaders) invite the Commission to intensify talks with Turkey to address latest complications in the implementation of the Customs Union, ensuring its productive software to all Member States.” This textual content reveals that the EU’s aim in updating the customs union is not the elimination of the trade diversion, but to make sure that Turkey acknowledges the Greek Cypriot point out.
There is a very similar distinction in the EU’s strategy to an worldwide assembly to be held in Geneva this thirty day period for the answer of the Cyprus difficulty under UN auspices. It is a 5+1 meeting, with the participation of the Turkish and Greek communities of Cyprus, the 3 guarantor states, and the UN. The pertinent paragraph of the EU summit communique reads as follows: “(The EU) appears to be like ahead to the resumption of negotiations underneath the auspices of the United Nations in which the EU will take part as an observer.” Turkey is not pleased with the participation of the EU, and its presence — even in an observer capacity — will even further complicate the negotiations.
One more critical concern for Turkey ensuing from the EU summit was that of visa facilitation for Turks who want to check out EU nations around the world. This is significant for tens of tens of millions of Turks, but the EU does not even point out it in the communique. On the other hand, the side that unsuccessful to satisfy its obligations in this specific concern is Turkey, since it could not satisfy the 72 standards required by the bloc.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are scheduled to stop by Turkey this week. This will be a new endeavor to mend bridges next Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated harsh rhetoric from the EU.
• Yasar Yakis is a former overseas minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling AK Bash. Twitter: @yakis_yasar
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