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Why the EU must reengage with Turkey 29 septembre 2014

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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EPC Commentary (European Policy Centre) 29 September 2014

Amanda Paul *

Democratic values and basic rights in Turkey are hanging by a thread. Over the past eighteen months the rule of law, civil liberties and freedoms have been eroded which has left many Turks anxious over the direction in which their country is heading.

With Turkey’s accession negotiations de facto frozen, the EU finds itself with little leverage over Ankara. Calls of concern have fallen on deaf ears as Turkey’s leadership has become increasingly belligerent, with its EU related narrative overflowing with resentment. Because Turkey’s accession negotiations are irreversibly intertwined with Turkey-EU cooperation in other areas, this has had a negative impact on the broader relationship between both sides. Recent examples include the issue of foreign fighters traveling from Europe to Syria via Turkey. Each side has accused the other of not doing enough to stem the flow. Likewise, following the decision of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to ban the import of agricultural goods from countries that have placed sanctions on Moscow, the EU asked Turkey to demonstrate solidarity, as a “candidate country”, and not to increase exports of agricultural products to Russia. Turkey rejected this request and is reportedly working on strengthening trade ties with Moscow.

Turkey remains an important partner in a number of key areas including trade, energy, foreign and security policy and migration. At a time when the EU faces crises in both its Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods, a reliable and predictable Turkey, with which it can cooperate in the Black Sea and Middle East neighbourhoods is crucial. Hence the vision and plans of the EU’s new leadership, in particular new Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, and Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, how to shape relations with Ankara is particularly significant. The Union’s current policy is counterproductive and is further eroding trust and cooperation rather than enhancing it. It needs to be turned around.

* Amanda Paul is a Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC).

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