EU executive urges change of tack in relations with Turkey

EU executive urges change of tack in relations with Turkey

EU executive urges change of tack in relations with Turkey

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The European Union executive urged EU governments on April 24 to consider changing its relationship with Turkey after a referendum that put Ankara’s stalled membership talks deeper into cold storage, with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn calling for a change of format in ties with Turkey.

Hahn, who is responsible for negotiations with countries wanting to join the bloc, called on EU foreign ministers when they meet in Malta on April 28 to consider a new format for relations with Turkey, one that could ease mutual frustrations and reinforce cooperation.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” Hahn said.

He added that he did not want to prejudge discussions among the member states on whether they should suspend Turkey’s accession request, which they accepted in 2005. Hahn’s native Austria has been among the most prominent advocates of a freeze.

Some other states fear that could see Turkey act on threats to end a year-old agreement which has stemmed the flow of migrants to Greece and on to Germany. However, many in the EU believe Ankara has good reasons, including the financial aid that is part of the deal, not to stop cooperating on migration.

Hahn said he shared the concerns of the Council of Europe. But he said the EU could look at reinforcing cooperation with Turkey in areas other than EU membership that could benefit both sides.

The commission has been looking at updating its customs union arrangements with Ankara. Hahn stressed that whatever relationship the EU might have with Turkey, including an economic one, its respect for the rule of law would remain crucial.