Turkey-EU step up for dialogue meetings
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey and the EU will resume bilateral dialogue meetings in the upcoming weeks and months, with the first high level one to take place next week with the participation of senior commission officials.
Ankara and Brussels will hold Turkey-EU High Level Political Dialogue meetings on Nov. 22 and the Turkey-EU Association Committee on Nov. 28.
Turkey and the EU will hold other dialogue meetings on energy, transportation and economy in the upcoming months.
These meetings follow the Turkey-EU Political Dialogue meeting at the Political Directors Level that was held on Oct. 25 in Ankara, where Turkey’s accession process, Turkey-EU common agenda, financial cooperation, Facility for Refugees, cooperation in migration management, visa liberalization process, counter-terrorism, economy, trade, update of the Customs Union and energy as well as regional and international issues were discussed.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, and Johannes Hahn, the European Union commissioner for enlargement, will travel to Turkey for the first meeting.
Turkey has resumed working on the remaining six benchmarks required in order to launch visa liberalization process, which envisages visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, said Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
After a nearly three-year-long freeze, the Turkish government in August met with ministers of the EU Reform Action Group to step up its agenda on EU reforms.
Speaking at the parliament on Nov. 14, Çavuşoğlu stated that the government will hold its second EU reform action group meeting in the second week of December.
“We will focus on the areas of Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, Justice, Freedom and Security,” he said.
The minister recalled that the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe has taken Turkey under scrutiny and said Turkey aims to end this process.
“We have already met two important priorities with lifting the state of emergency and establishing a state of emergency investigation commission. We will take the necessary steps as well,” he said.
Brussels has been increasingly vocal on Turkey’s human rights record, particularly in regards to the state of emergency that was declared right after the coup attempt in 2016 and was lifted this summer.
Turkey’s accession process to the EU has been officially suspended with European Council decisions that stipulate no chapters to be opened.
The Turkish government has been critical against the block, but this negative rhetoric faded away after the June 24 elections in Turkey.
In a pragmatic approach, European leaders have been promoting dialogue with Ankara over some fields of common interest such as the fight against terrorism, economy and refugees.
Meanwhile, some EU politicians, even the commissioner for the enlargement, express their willingness to end accession talks, which has long been stalled due to political blockages.
“In the long term, it would be more honest for Turkey and the EU to follow a new direction and end accession talks,” Hahn said recently.
Turkey’s membership of the EU is not realistic in the foreseeable future, Hahn told Die Welt newspaper on Nov. 6.
Hahn said it is important to maintain dialogue with Turkey and work towards a new strategic partnership.
Most recently, Kati Piri, rapporteur of the European Parliament for Turkey, drafted a report that the European Parliament should recommend the EU formally suspend accessions talks with Turkey.
The European Parliament will vote on the report in February.