Turkey, EU to continue to work on positive agenda: Çavuşoğlu
Turkey has said it will continue to work with the European Union on a positive agenda outlined by Brussels which includes the renewal of the migrant deal, upgrading the customs union and visa liberalization, as EU’s top diplomat revealed a comprehensive report on ties with Turkey that suggests opening a path for improved cooperation in the mentioned areas but also imposing sanctions if Ankara changes its behavior in the Mediterranean dispute.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was in Brussels for the NATO foreign ministerial meeting, came together with EU’s high representative for foreign and security policies, Josep Borrell, late March 22 at a working dinner. The meeting came right after Borrell unveiled a report on the state of play in ties with Turkey.
“[We] will work together with EU High Representative @JosepBorrellF to continue the positive agenda. More cooperation is needed on updating Customs Union, visa liberalization, irregular migration and fight against terrorism,” Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter after the meeting. He also informed that they discussed regional issues including Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.
For his part, Borrell said he discussed with Çavuşoğlu the state of play of EU - Turkey relations after the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) that took place on March 22 and ahead of the March 25-26 EU Council meeting.
“Particular emphasis on talks with Greece, Cyprus, regional conflicts, in particular Libya, and on the domestic situation,” he said on Twitter.
Borrell’s report on ties with Turkey
Borrell outlined his report titled “State of play of EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations” at the FAC meeting that needs to be adopted by EU leaders when they meet later this week. The 16-page report recalls that the tension between Turkey and the EU over the Turkish-Greek dispute in the eastern Mediterranean was calmed down but urged that the situation was still fragile.
“To deepen the present momentum and incentivize closer EU-Turkey ties across the board, we believe that the Union should put a number of possible areas of cooperation on the table to allow for a progressive, proportionate and reversible approach. These are in our common interest and could be pursued in incremental steps - provided of course that the constructive efforts by Turkey are sustained and reinforced in the next months,” the report said.
The report highlights the need for the improvement of the migrant deal between the two sides while emphasizing that “strengthening our already substantial economic ties is another win-win situation for both sides, particularly in the currently difficult economic climate. At the heart of this would be the modernization and expansion of the scope of the current EU-Turkey Customs Union as already proposed by the Commission.”
It also suggests the resumption of high-level Turkey-EU dialogue and increasing people-to-people contacts.
Sanctions on table as well
Borrell’s report stressed that additional measures can be imposed on Turkey if it chooses to escalate tension in the regional affairs, like the eastern Mediterranean.
“Further restrictions on EU-Turkey economic cooperation, including on the operations of the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions,” and “measures targeting other sectors important for the Turkish economy, such as a prohibition to supply of tourism services, negative travel advice by member states, etc.,” were cited in the report.
Speaking to reporters about the report, Borrell said the coming period would be important over ties with Turkey.
“We will have to continue following closely the behavior of Turkey, using some landmarks, some references, and the development of the talks about the Cyprus settlement will be one of them. The negotiations or the preliminary talks between Greece and Turkey will be another one. The development of the situation in Libya will be another one. And the development of the internal political situation in Turkey will be another one,” he stated.
Borrell underlined that the EU wants to have a relationship with Turkey as a candidate country, as a neighbor, as an important country with whom the EU wants to have the best relation - defending the interests of member states and the values of the union.