Ankara to have minimum dialogue with new EU president Austria

Ankara to have minimum dialogue with new EU president Austria

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Ankara to have minimum dialogue with new EU president Austria

This file photo shows Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu. Ankara does not expect much progress in its EU bid during Austria's presidency, he said last week.

As Austria has taken over the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union in July, Ankara does not expect a considerable agenda with the new term president, even at refugee issue, given tensions between Ankara and Vienna.

Ankara will likely to have “minimum dialogue” with the new term president Austria, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey will focus on legislations to meet remaining benchmarks in order to start visa liberalization process, but the Turkish government will first conclude necessary arrangements for restructure of its bureaucracy, said the official.

Turkey’s EU ministry will be closed down, its will be fully transferred to the Foreign Ministry and the former will preserve its organizational chart but without a minister.

After the structural transformation finalized, then the necessary law amendments for visa liberalization will wait opening of new legislation year of the parliament . EU expects Turkey to change its anti-terrorism legislation among the six remaining benchmarks in order to launch visa liberalization dialogue.

Even for the visa liberalization, the necessary dialogue will be conducted with the commission, not with the term presidency, the official added.

Turkish-EU relations have already been purely transactional, covering only a few areas of mutual interest such as the refugee deal and counterterrorism cooperation,

Austria will have an important say in setting the agenda at the many meetings between member states and it already has said it plans to use its presidency to shift toward preventing further waves of migrant arrivals.

Ankara not eager for cooperation with Austria on issue of refugees

The cooperation regarding refugees is a crucial topic for both the EU and Turkey, but Ankara is not eager to have mutual work with Austria, another Turkish diplomat told Daily News.

Relations between Turkey and Austria have been strained in recent months over a host of issues, including Vienna’s stance towards migrants and its opposition to Ankara’s technically ongoing, but effectively all but collapsed, EU membership bid.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives are in a coalition government with the anti-Islam Freedom Party, making Austria the only western European country to have a far-right party in government. Both parties believe the European Union should break off Turkish accession talks.

The diplomat recalled efforts by Austria for further critical declaration of the Union towards Turkey at a recent meeting.

Last week EU ministers said this week Brussels could not open any more chapters or modernize the EU-Turkey customs union due to Ankara’s failure to meet European standards in various areas.

This prompted an angry response from Ankara. “There are areas where we can work together, but opening chapters or not is a political issue. We expect better cooperation in the next term, once Austria’s presidency is over,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier said. Romania takes the helm next.

Çavuşoğlu said he did not expect positive steps on opening new chapters, or policy areas, in Turkey’s accession bid in the coming term, but added that the issue of visa liberalization and updating Turkey’s Customs Union agreement with the bloc would be discussed with EU officials.

“I don’t think there will be positive steps taken during Austria’s term presidency. We spoke at length with the Austrian foreign minister, but unfortunately, the current chancellor is even more extreme than the far-right party,” he said.

EU monitors state of emergency, administrative transition for new system

An EU diplomat expressed the Union’s expectation from Ankara for the upcoming term in order to keep the relations on its track.

“The state of emergency should up lifted and normalization should be maintained,” the diplomat told Daily News noting that Brussels also monitors new administrative changes for the new “Presidential Government System “ will be “in line to the proposals of Venice Commission under the Council of Europe.”

The report of the Venice Commission adopted on 10 March 2017 warned about the new system removes necessary checks and balances.

The commission stated that the proposed system is “further weakening the already inadequate system of judicial oversight of the executive, and further weakening the independence of the judiciary.

European Union, Turkey Europe, negotiations