Saturday

1st Oct 2022

Lifting emergency laws could unfreeze Turkey's EU bid

  • Turkey is set for snap elections on 24 June (Photo: David Stanley)

The European Union may consider unfreezing accession talks with Turkey should the country lift its state of emergency decrees.

Christian Berger, the EU's ambassador to Turkey, said removing the state of emergency would be seen as a "very symbolic" gesture.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"If that were to change then I think member states would take this up again and reflect again on what to do next," the Austrian national told reporters in Istanbul on Wednesday (30 May).

Turkey's state of emergency has led to mass arrests, arbitrary sackings, and allegations of torture since the failed coup in 2016. Last month, it was extended for the seventh time.

It is unclear to what extent Vienna, which takes over the EU presidency in the second half of the year, would submit to reopening talks, given that Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an end to Turkey's accession bid.

The EU and Ankara also held a frosty summit in Varna, Bulgaria, in March where the two sides remained at odds over numerous issues when it comes to rule of law, mass jailing of journalists, detention of Greek soldiers, and wider conflicts with Syria and Cyprus.

Berger's comments come ahead of a delegation of EU officials who will be arriving on Thursday in Ankara to discuss outstanding issues to lift short stay visas on Turks travelling to Europe.

This includes, among other things, demands to reform Turkey's anti-terror laws.

Accelerating the visa waiver is an EU concession following a deal with Turkey in March 2016 to stem the flow of migrants to the Greek islands.

Turkey had earlier this year submitted its plans to the European Commission on how to sort the terror laws to meet EU conditions.

But Berger's comments also come ahead of moves by Turkey's president Erdogan to further consolidate his political grip with presidential and parliament snap elections set for 24 June.

The country is grappling with a spike in inflation, unemployment,a and a budget deficit that has increased 58 percent in the past year. Erdogan is also facing allied opposition parties and candidates bent on unseating him.

Should he win another five years as president, then the new constitution voted through a controversial referendum last year, would most likely come into force a day later.

The constitution has already granted Erdogan a stronger role in appointing judges, a move criticised by the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

The whole is part of a wider shift away from a parliament system of governance to one that concentrates power into the executive.

"More powers are now moving to the executive and what we would see as control functions of a parliament vis a vis a government or the executive is not as strong any more," said Berger.

Turkey 'ready' to reform terror laws for EU visa deal

Faruk Kaymakci, Turkey's ambassador to the EU, says Ankara is ready to reform its anti-terror laws and meet all outstanding benchmarks so that Turks can travel freely to EU member states without visas.

EU-Turkey summit ends with 'no solutions'

Bulgaria's prime minister Boyko Borisov described a meeting at the Black Sea resort of Varna between the presidents of Turkey, the EU council, and the European commission as "charged with great tension." Disputes remain far from resolved.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

Opinion

Turkey: purged beyond return

Turkey's state of emergency following a failed military coup has resulted in a government-led purge of some 130,000 people. Its "State of Emergency Inquiry Commission" to review decisions has only overturned seven percent of the cases.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  2. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  3. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  4. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  5. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  6. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  7. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  8. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us