State of emergency complicates ties between Ankara-Brussels: EU term presidency

State of emergency complicates ties between Ankara-Brussels: EU term presidency

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
State of emergency complicates ties between Ankara-Brussels: EU term presidency

The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) warns Turkey against the extension of its state of emergency stressing that it harms the environment for progress in democracy and the rule of law and complicates ties between Ankara and Brussels.

“Yesterday, the state of emergency was extended for three more months. It’s very difficult to advance democracy and rule of law under the state of emergency. That’s the reason for some of the complications in recent communication between Turkey and EU,” Foreign Minister of Estonia Sven Mikser told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on July 18 after his talks in Ankara.

Minister Mikser is not optimistic about opening a new negotiation chapter for accession talks with Turkey during their term presidency. 

“It’s pretty clear it would be unrealistic to expect to open new chapters during our presidency partly because of the EU’s internal political calendar, the upcoming elections. But more importantly we expect the European Commission’s assessment about Turkey’s progress regarding the Copenhagen Criteria. This assessment is due early next year,” said Mikser.

He underlined that Turkey and the EU, meanwhile, work on “other important tracks.” “Everyone agrees that the partnership between the EU and Turkey is a strategic one. Turkey is seen in Europe as an indispensable partner in migration related issues. Turkey is a very important security partner for Europe and a very important NATO ally for many countries. The country plays a very important role in attempts to resolve the security crisis in the Middle East. The economic track is of very high importance, including to the future of the Customs Union.”

Elaborating on the post-coup attempt period in Turkey, the Estonian minister said it was “natural” to take some measures after a coup attempt and bring those responsible to justice.

“I’d like to point out that responsibility for any crime should be individual. There must not be collective punishment. So, it’s a very important principle and obviously the EU is following developments in Turkey very closely regarding the measures adopted after the coup,” he said.

Citing a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the EU’s Tusk and Juncker on May 25, Mikser recalled that the parties have agreed “to get some of those obstacles off the table.”

“It’s not going to be easy, but it should not be impossible if there is mutual goodwill and a constructive approach,” he stated.

Yet, Erdoğan’s rhetoric for reinstating the death penalty casts a shadow on this consensus, since even any statement regarding capital punishment discomforts European public opinion, the minister said.

“There are things that I cannot see as very helpful, for example, toying with the idea of the death penalty. That’s not really creating a good atmosphere. It’s an extremely sensitive issue when it comes to public opinion in the European countries. That is not in accordance with the European principles and values. It would be extremely helpful to refrain from such rhetoric. Obviously there is a critical difference from words and implementation but even sort of getting into the spiral of each side, saying something that would further escalate this atmosphere; that’s not a good way to move ahead,” he said.