Borrell’s analytical note shows that the European Union seeks to interact and manage tensions and disputes with Turkey.
But at the same time, there is no news of negotiations to complete Turkey’s membership in the European Union.
According to the International News Agency, on the eve of the visit of senior European Union leaders and officials to Turkey, we see a green light for interaction between Brussels and Ankara.
In recent days, unlike in the past few months, AKP spokesman Omar Celik and other officials of Turkey’s ruling party responded to Emmanuel Macron’s critical statements in a softer tone.
Perhaps the reason for this flexibility is the soft statement from the last EU summit on Turkey.
The same statement in which the Commissioner of the European Union Ursula Vanderlein indicated the continuation of cooperation and dialogue with Turkey.
But at the same time, by sending an implicit threatening signal, it also expressed that in the event that Turkey take a step that the European Union considers provocative in the eastern part of the Mediterranean or issues related to Greece and Cyprus, as well as oil and gas exploration, this matter would be a stopping point for cooperation between Europe and Turkey.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, also wrote a short note on Turkish-European relations that included a reactive, non-tension-based policy.
One of the most important differences between Spaniard Borrell and his Italian predecessor Federica Mogherini is that Mogherini was prepared to speak only in front of the media camera.
And finally, at the level of writing short tweets.
But Borrell is a writer, and constant blogs and notes on a variety of fields are allowing analysts and journalists to become more aware of the EU’s foreign policy positions and approaches faster than ever before.
Last week, the Council of Europe opened a new page in relations between the European Union and Turkey.
“European Union leaders are ready to work together in important areas of cooperation, including updating customs rules and regulations, resuming high-level talks and people-to-people contacts, as well as strengthening cooperation in migration management.”
A new chapter in relationships
The European Union’s foreign policy coordinator pointed to the negative trend in relations between Turkey and the European Union in 2020 and said that it has reached a low level with unprecedented tension.
However, in late 2020, Turkish officials began to reconnect and show a desire to communicate and interact with the European Union.
“The negative rhetoric and stances have diminished greatly, and actions against the interests of the European Union member states in the eastern Mediterranean have ceased.”
Josep Borrell wrote, “Of course, we have to admit that the current situation is not yet stable and fragile.”
Where he took a realistic look at the current state of the relationship between Ankara and Brussels and some of the ongoing disagreements between Ankara and Brussels.
Such as Ankara’s economic dependence on the European Union.
However, the Union welcomes these developments and Turkey’s next steps and extends a hand of friendship to Ankara.
The European Union is concerned with establishing strategic relations and upgrading them to the level of cooperation and mutual benefit.
This rule applies equally to Turkey. Because the European Union is Turkey’s primary import and export partner and also a major source of foreign investment.
According to figures before the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic, 69.8 billion euros came from Turkish exports to the European Union, and 58.5 billion euros from foreign direct investment from the European Union.
More than 5.5 million Turkish citizens live in the member states of the European Union.
According to opinion polls, 61% of Turkish citizens view the European Union as an actor, and an influential force in the world.
“Given Turkey’s membership in NATO and its effect on maintaining Turkey’s security and stability, it is unlikely that it will find a better option for friendship and security than the European Union and NATO.”
List of important differences
A quick look at the positions of Turkish and European officials over the past few months shows that tensions have stopped, but that the differences remain unresolved and remain strong.
Borrell wrote, “It would be naive to think that the problems are over.”
The report on relations between the European Union and Turkey, which I co-authored with the European Commission and presented to the Council of Europe, takes a two-pronged approach and identifies four main elements of tension in relations:
- Maritime conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.
- Various and strict procedures in regional conflicts, especially in Libya and Syria.
- The deterioration of democratic standards in Turkey.
Borrell wrote of the significance of these differences:
“With regard to regional issues and tensions, we have important work and plans for the future.”
Especially in the case of Syria, where the Brussels Fifth Conference to support the future of Syria and the region is being held in cooperation with the United Nations.
Meanwhile, in the Libyan case, a convergence of interests has recently begun to emerge.
I must point out that democratic norms remain strong, not only for the European Union, but also for the Turkish people as a major issue.
Talking about and acting on such issues will always be an integral part of relations between the European Union and Turkey.
“The pressure on political parties, free media, and other recent Turkish decisions is incompatible with respect for democracy and basic rights.”
“The report on the state of political, economic and commercial relations between the European Union and Turkey clarifies the fact that the impact of tensions on our bilateral relations is clear and undeniable,” wrote the head of the European Union’s foreign policy.
The statement made by the members of the Council of Europe last week rightly referred to these different elements and highlighted their importance in ensuring success through cooperation and dialogue.
It is not easy to walk the road ahead. EU leaders stressed the need for a gradual approach, but at the same time reversible cooperation.
There is a fundamental difference that separates today’s efforts to find a solution from those of the past.
Knowing that the old differences affect the security interests of the European Union and cannot be limited to bilateral relations between Turkey, and some member states consider Turkey an important regional power, and its historical destiny may be to join the rest of Europe in the unique peace project that we are building under the auspices of the European Union.
At a time when it appears that the strategic pole around the world is re-emerging, strengthening the democratic pillar of Europe, including Turkey, can be a key element in achieving balance.
This is not certain, but the Council of Europe has suggested a possible bridge path.
“We have to build this bridge now, and I believe in that.”
Finally, Borrell’s analytical note shows that the European Union seeks to deal with tensions and disputes with Ankara and its administration.
But at the same time, there is no news of negotiations to complete Turkey’s membership in the Union.
In other words, Turkey and the European Union, as evidenced by the text of Joseph Borrell’s memorandum, have interlocking interests and specific mutual approaches that make tolerance and efforts to manage tensions less reasonable for both sides.