Turkey criticizes EU leaders’ summit conclusion for delaying concrete decisions
Turkey expressed dissatisfaction on June 25 over the conclusion of the European Union leader’s summit and said the bloc abstained from concrete decisions as a “delaying tactic.”
The decisions adopted under the title of “Turkey” at the EU Heads of State and Government Summit held in Brussels on June 24 are far from containing the expected and necessary steps, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on June 25.
Turkey has more than fulfilled its responsibilities in terms of reducing tensions and initiating dialogue and cooperation, the ministry said in a written statement.
“The EU’s acknowledgment that the tension has decreased and delaying taking concrete decisions to implement the positive agenda, including updating the Customs Union, is seen as a delaying tactic, lack of will and abuse of EU membership by one or two member states,” the statement said.
“Avoiding reference to our candidacy status in the text also confirms this view,” the ministry added.
“What is required in order to maintain the positive momentum achieved and to advance Turkey-EU relations through the ‘positive agenda’ with the perspective of accession is to review the March 18 agreement with all aspects and with a holistic understanding and to make it operational in a way that will respond to the needs of the day and common interests,” said the statement.
Rather than proposing a dialogue on the rule of law and fundamental rights, the EU should pave the way for accession negotiations and lay the groundwork for faster progress in the 23rd and 24th chapters, Ankara stated.
The proposed new financial aid package is for Syrian refugees, not for Turkey, and is essentially a step to be taken to ensure the EU’s own peace and security, the ministry said and emphasized that reducing migration cooperation to a financial dimension was a “big mistake.”
The Cyprus-related parts of the summit resolutions are the “repetition of the Greek/Greek duo’s views as usual,” it noted and said as long as this attitude of the EU continues, it is not possible to make a constructive contribution to the Cyprus issue.
EU agrees on additional package
EU leaders agreed to provide 3 billion euros in extra funding from 2021 to 2024 to help Turkey host millions of refugees from Syria. The Union will also continue working on a Customs Union update with Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on June 24 following the talks on the first day of the EU leaders’ summit.
The EU Commission submitted a report on how the migration deal with Turkey could be extended, adding that it was agreed with additional funding of 3 billion euros, Merkel said.
“We will continue the work on the Customs Union, and of course, we expect constructive attitude from Turkey. We have also seen an improvement in the situation in the Mediterranean,” she said.
Leaders meeting in Brussels told the European Commission to present a formal proposal on the funds - part of a broader 5.7-billion-euro package for Syria’s neighbors - “without delay,” the conclusion statement said.
Turkey currently hosts 3.7 million refugees resulting from the conflict in Syria and has been used by the EU as a bulwark to help stem the flow of migrants into Europe. A previous 2016 deal has seen Turkey receive 4 billion euros so far to keep a lid on arrivals coming into the bloc, with 2 billion euros more set to be disbursed.
The European Council reverted to the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the European Union’s relations with Turkey, recalling the EU’s strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. It also welcomed the de-escalation in the eastern Mediterranean.
The European Council reiterated the EU’s readiness to engage with Turkey in a “phased, proportionate and reversible manner to enhance cooperation in a number of areas of common interest, subject to the established conditions set out in March and in previous European Council conclusions.”
The EU is also dangling the possible modernization of the Customs Union in front of Turkey and is moving to restart high-level talks on issues of mutual interest, such as migration, public health, climate, counterterrorism and regional issues.
“In line with this framework, it takes note of the start of work at technical level towards a mandate for the modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and recalls the need to address current difficulties in the implementation of the Customs Union, ensuring its effective application to all member states. Such a mandate may be adopted by the Council subject to additional guidance by the European Council,” said the conclusion.
The EU statement also said, “The rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey remains a key concern.”