Bringing the EU and Turkey together



Since the migration crisis of 2015, cooperation in the field of migration has become an important pillar of EU-Turkey relations. At the same time, a number of high-profile conflicts in their neighborhood have fueled tensions between them.

The 2016 migration agreement succeeded in curbing irregular migration and preventing humanitarian tragedies on the shores of the Mediterranean. But it remains to be seen whether this has resulted in a fair burden-sharing between host countries in the EU and its neighborhood or better living conditions for some 3.7 million Syrian refugees with protection status. temporary in Turkey, who hardly aspire to return home.

However, the deal was criticized by both parties. While Turkey was dissatisfied with the EU’s broken promises on visa liberalization, updating the Customs Union and speeding up membership negotiations, the EU worried about full compliance by the EU. Turkey of its Copenhagen commitments. Turkey’s accession negotiations had been frozen in recent years, but the European Parliament recently called for their formal suspension while insisting that any positive agenda with Turkey should be conditional on democratic reform.

Although additional funding was pledged by the EU to Turkey in April as a sign of “solidarity” and “an investment in shared stability”, and an extension of the deal seems imminent, long-term solutions term may be needed to tackle common challenges such as migration and security.

“The future relationship between the EU and Turkey must be based on a strong dialogue and mutual trust for it to bear fruit and be of a lasting nature”.

The EU should carefully consider the effectiveness of its current ‘carrot and stick’ strategy, which juggles both sanctions and a positive agenda. The current geopolitical debate appears to be more conducive to the latter as tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean ease with ongoing exploratory talks and signs of rapprochement between Turkey and several allies on the sidelines of the recent NATO summit. But the EU and Turkey should align their long-term foreign and defense policies, especially in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, to tackle the root causes of migration flows and avoid future humanitarian disasters.

Although there is a certain weariness towards membership, mainly due to broken promises on both sides, Turkey has repeatedly stressed that “it sees itself in Europe and seeks to build its future on the continent”, while underlining its desire for reforms. It is high time for Turkey to mobilize for these reforms to materialize and for the EU’s high-profile slogans, such as “positive agenda” or “overhaul of the Customs Union agreement”, translate into concrete actions.

The future relationship between the EU and Turkey must be based on strong dialogue and mutual trust for it to bear fruit and be sustainable. Civil society has a crucial role to play here in stimulating cooperation rather than hostilities in the Euro-Mediterranean region. In this context, a new project entitled “Dialogue for Migration and Security”, led by the Brussels-based civil society organization Dialogue for Europe (DfE) in cooperation with the European Union based in Ankara and the World Research Organization (ABKAD), started – started in April 2021. The project, funded by the EU, aims to strengthen civil society dialogue between the EU and Turkey in the field of migration and security by creating synergies and channels of cooperation between NGOs, academics and policy makers in order to give new impetus to mutual relations. As a result, civil society organizations on both sides will be able to shape policies while embracing core EU values ​​and tackling the growing populist and xenophobic discourse in the EU and Turkey.

“Having the longest history and the longest negotiation process with the EU, Turkey is the EU’s sixth trading partner. It is also an important player in the EU’s energy security and a staunch ally of NATO.

With the longest history and the longest negotiation process with the EU, Turkey is the EU’s sixth trading partner. It is also an important player in the EU’s energy security and a staunch NATO ally, assuming a crucial role as the defender of the Alliance’s south-eastern front during the Cold War. These long-standing strategic ties should be reflected in diplomatic and geopolitical relations between the EU and Turkey. Both Turkey and the EU should seek inclusive and constructive approaches and avoid unilateral measures when dealing with sensitive issues, such as migration and security. The consequences of long-term partner isolation should be carefully considered by the EU. At the same time, Turkey must continue to play a bridge role between East and West, while contributing to the diversity of the EU and respecting its values, such as democracy and human rights. man.

Ultimately, Turkey should have the possibility of opening and closing the benchmarks of negotiating chapters, such as chapter 10 on the information society and the media and chapter 24 on justice, freedom and Security. This could help advance fundamental rights, media freedom, the rule of law and much-needed judicial reforms. Suspending talks, however, would be the least constructive step the EU can take right now, while at the same time running the risk of alienating Turkey.



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