Turkey, EU need to create a new perspective
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was in Malta on April 28 to attend the Gymnich meeting of the European Union foreign ministers, in his first encounter with his EU colleagues after the Turkish referendum and the decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that reinstates monitoring process on Turkey after 13 years.
We will sure read more about talks that are being held in Malta in the coming days and will have a clearer mind on how the relationship between Turkey and the EU will continue after all the crises we had in the last few months. And more importantly, we will continue to observe the consequences of the approval of the constitutional amendments and unrelenting erosion of democratic norms in Turkey on its snail-pace accession process.
At the point we have arrived, the state of ties between the two sides are not promising a healthy and sound future but the task of the foreign ministers and diplomats is to find a way to keep communication channels open and to introduce a new perspective on ties.
As a matter of fact, both Turkish and EU leaders do agree on the very fact that the Ankara-Brussels relationship can no longer continue in its current form. Therefore upcoming meetings between the two sides will likely be focused on how to formulate future phases of this partnership and what kind of a perspective should be granted to keep it alive.
Following Çavuşoğlu’s meet in Malta, EU Minister Ömer Çelik will hold talks in Brussels and Strasbourg and then President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of EU Council Donald Tusk in end of May in Brussels. It’s no doubt that Erdoğan’s meeting will likely give us a clue on how ties will be continued in the short-run.
In the meantime, it might be expected that a discourse control would be implemented on both sides in order not to spark fresh tension on the eve of this process.
For diplomats in Ankara, at a moment when it’s proven that accession process will go nowhere, creating a good agenda for Turkey would be a positive thing to do.
This agenda may be consisted of three key areas: security and counter-terrorism efforts; continued cooperation on stemming the flow of irregular migrants into Europe via Turkey and taking steps for upgrading the Customs Union.
In return, there will sure be demands to be voiced from Turkey especially on the accomplishment of the visa liberalization and financial assistance to be used for Syrian refugees.
One important difficulty is the upcoming parliamentary elections in three key European countries, notably the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which would cause postponing a high-level Turkey-EU Summit to the end of this year.
It is also very much likely that the European Council will launch a massive debate on the suspension of accession negotiations with Turkey in the light of recent developments and upon the pressure of some member countries. These debates both within the EU and with Turkey will help to clarify the positions of two sides about the format of their relationship.
The new perspective to be established in due course would help both sides to continue their respective engagement towards each other and to avoid a complete destruction of what has been built over the years.