EU choosing to ‘re-engage’ with Turkey: Official

EU choosing to ‘re-engage’ with Turkey: Official

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
EU choosing to ‘re-engage’ with Turkey: Official Turkey and the European Union will hold a political dialogue meeting on June 13 in Brussels “to take stock of where both sides are in their relationship,” an EU official has told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The view of the EU side, and reciprocated on the Turkish side, is that ‘it’s time to re-engage. It’s important that we stop talking about each other, but rather talk to each other,’” the EU official said on condition of anonymity.

“I don’t think everything was solved at that meeting, but it opened a door for future engagement and for future meetings,” the official said, referring to a trilateral meeting featuring Turkey and the EU on May 25.

In the May meeting bringing together Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk, EU officials suggested to Erdoğan that summits regularly be held with Turkey, the official said.

Ankara has long insisted on such meetings since the Lisbon Treaty ended summits with candidate countries.  
The EU official noted that no date had yet been determined for the summit but that they believed it was important to hold such gatherings annually or twice a year.

Inter-governmental or trilateral summit

In an upcoming summit, EU leaders will decide on whether to hold regular summits with Turkey, as well as the format of such gatherings, with meetings likely to be either part of an inter-governmental summit with the 28 EU members or a trilateral meeting with the president of Turkey and the heads of the European Commission and the EU Council.

EU Ministry Undersecretary Selim Yenel and Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Mehmet Kemal Bozay will represent Turkey at a political directors meeting on June 13 to discuss the current status of possible upgrades to the customs union, the migrant deal between Ankara and Brussels, visa liberalization for Turks to the Schengen area, the fight against terrorism, as well as future meetings for high-level dialogue on political, energy and economic relations.

The bloc expects Turkey to fulfill five remaining benchmarks before it will ease visa procedures for Turks. “Our view is we need to hear something from Turkey before we can move on,” the EU official said, noting they want to see a change in Turkey’s anti-terror legislation “in line with international requirements.”

The EU side is also waiting for Ankara to meet necessary conditions in order to resume accession talks with the union.

“On accession and on moving forward with the negotiations, [EU foreign affairs chief Federica] Mogherini at the Malta meetings [in April] was very clear when she said we know the member states decided in December last year that no negations are going on at the moment but that the criteria for resuming negotiations was clear on both sides,” said the official. 

“The criteria are very clear and well-known, and if Turkey is interested in joining, as the foreign minister told us today ... it knows very well what that implies, especially in the field of human rights, rule of law, democracy and freedoms,” Mogherini said previously.