Rapprochement instead of hardened fronts? On Tuesday, EU Commission President von der Leyen and Council President Michel met with Turkey’s President Erdogan.
Update from April 6, 2021, 7:04 p.m .: The EU offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a restart of relations, but at the same time expressed clear criticism of the country’s domestic political situation. During a visit to Ankara, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel expressed concern about the latest developments in Turkey. At the same time, however, they held out the prospect of increased economic cooperation and financial support.
Erdogan: meeting with EU leaders in Ankara – “constructive way” and “new dynamic”
Von der Leyen spoke of a “good first meeting” with Erdogan. Turkey has shown interest in entering into dialogue with the EU “in a constructive manner”. The EU is ready to work on “a new dynamic in our relations” before the summit of its heads of state and government in June. After Ankara’s willingness to discuss the conflict over gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, the EU summit at the end of March had promised increased cooperation if Turkey continues to show willingness to cooperate. Should the conflict with the EU members Greece and Cyprus flare up again, there are still sanctions against Ankara in the room.
According to Von der Leyen, in the almost three-hour conversation with Erdogan, four areas of expanded cooperation were discussed in depth: the modernization of the common customs union, high-level discussions, easier travel for Turkish citizens and further financial aid for around four million Syrian refugees in Turkey .
On the last point, von der Leyen said that the EU Commission would “soon” present a proposal that would also include the host countries Jordan and Lebanon. The EU had already promised Ankara six billion euros for the Syrian refugees in Turkey in a refugee agreement from 2016, but most of these have now been spent and planned.
Meeting between von der Leyen and Erdogan: EU leadership reaps criticism from Greens and FDP
Update from April 6, 2021, 3:41 p.m .: Now the FDP parliamentary deputy in the Bundestag has also spoken out. Alexander Graf Lambsdorff considers the visit of the EU leaders to Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the wrong signal. “It is not the time to reward the Turkish President’s policies with PR images. Turkey only recently withdrew from the Istanbul Convention for the Protection of Women, the work of the opposition and journalists is being severely hindered, and the independence of the judiciary has in fact been abolished, ”criticized the FDP foreign politician. He also referred to an announcement by the Turkish energy minister that his country would soon resume the controversial gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The EU must give this a clear rejection,” said Lambsdorff. Overall, discussions with Ankara should currently only be held at the working level in order to enable an exchange on existing points of conflict. For many years the Erdogan government has been implementing measures that override basic and civil rights, make free elections more difficult and violate the separation of powers. “An end to the EU accession talks with Turkey is therefore long overdue,” continued Lambsdorff.
Turkey: Erdogan receives EU leadership – “Mockery of all democrats”
Original article dated April 6, 2021: Brussels – Cem Özdemir, Member of the Green Party, has sharply criticized the meeting between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan wants to turn off the opposition, get out of the Istanbul Convention for the Protection of Women and bring hundreds of thousands of innocent people to justice, the foreign expert wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. The fact that the EU leaders are now meeting Erdogan “to give gifts” is “Brussels self-dwarfing” and “a mockery of all democrats in Turkey”.
#Erdogan wants to turn off the opposition. Get off the #IstanbulConvention out. Bring hundreds of thousands of innocent people to justice.
Meet von der Leyen & Michel #Erdogan today to make gifts. This is Brussels self-dwarfing & mockery for all democrats of the #Turkey!
– Cem Özdemir (@cem_oezdemir) April 6, 2021
The background to the trip by von der Leyen and Michel to Ankara this Tuesday is based on agreements made at the EU summit one and a half weeks ago. With him, the heads of state and government had agreed to gradually expand relations with Turkey again. Among other things, preparations are to begin for negotiations on expanding the customs union.
EU meeting with Turkey: Conflicts with Greece and Cyprus to be resolved
The resolutions are intended to give Turkey an incentive to look constructively for a solution to conflicts with Greece and Cyprus. Among other things, they concern, until recently, Turkish gas explorations near the Greek islands and off Cyprus. In the dispute, the EU threatened Turkey with severe sanctions last December. The country then ended the controversial gas exploration and signaled readiness to talk.
The CSU politician and MEP Manfred Weber emphasized that an expansion of the customs union with Turkey was not yet pending in his view. “First of all, the Turkish leadership has to deliver,” commented the leader of the Christian Democrats. It is also clear that Turkey’s accession to the EU would be an illusion.
EU meeting with Erdogan on Tuesday afternoon
Von der Leyen and Michel wanted to meet Erdogan on Tuesday afternoon. A conversation with representatives of United Nations organizations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had been planned beforehand. The main focus should be on future support for Syrian refugees in Turkey, but also on Turkey’s recent withdrawal from the agreement on the protection of women.
Meanwhile, Turkey is also facing major economic problems: inflation and the situation of the Turkish lira are worries. (dpa)
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