Friday

24th Nov 2017

EU ministers look for ways to appease Turkey

  • "We need to clarify what it is that what we want from Turkey and with Turkey," Slovak foreign minister Lajcak said (Photo: eu2016sk/Flickr)

EU foreign affairs ministers on Friday (2 September) signaled a willingness to ease tensions with Turkey after relations were damaged by a failed coup against president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July.

A meeting on Saturday with Turkey's Europe minister Omer Celik could also open the way to an agreement on visa liberalisation later this year.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I expect that after tomorrow's meeting we will help to improve, normalise the atmosphere between the EU and Turkey," sais Slovakia's Miroslav Lajcak, whose country currently chairs the council of the EU.

"Turkey is an important partner, we need to clarify what it is that what we want from Turkey and with Turkey," he told journalists before the meeting in Bratislava.

Since the coup and the widespread crackdown that followed, Ankara has accused the EU of not being supportive enough and Europeans have warned Turkish authorities against violations of human rights and the rule of law.

Erdogan has also threatened to scrap a migrant deal signed off in March if his country was not granted a visa-free regime by the end of October.

Lajcak expressed some kind of European mea culpa. He said that while visiting Ankara last week, he "could feel very strong emotions on the Turkish side that the EU reacted very slowly" to the attempted coup.

"We need to clean the atmosphere," a EU source told EUobserver, adding that Turkey is "too big to be ignored".

The diplomacy chiefs exchanged their views before meeting Celik on Saturday.

They held what the source said was a long and intense discussion on the issue and "nobody left the room even to go to the toilets".

'Clear attitude'

Before meeting Celik they had "to mentally prepare", the source said, and bridge differences between themselves, with some countries holding a harder line towards Turkey.

The Austrian minister Sebastian Kurz, in particular, repeated that his country wanted to suspend accession talks with Turkey.

"The EU and Turkey can intensively cooperate on economy and other issues, but I don't see Turkey as a member of the European Union," he said before the meeting.

"We consider that purges and attempt to muzzle dissent are a wrong path. The EU must show a clear attitude," he said.

Kurz's compatriot and EU neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn said the EU had "more important topics of discussion than accession" and that focussing on that issue "creates an artificial discussion".

After both migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and European Parliament president Matin Schulz visited Ankara on Thursday and said that the EU and Turkey should be able to find a solution to grant Turkish citizens a visa-free regime, some EU officials said Friday that a compromise was at hand.

"There are signs on both sides that we want to find compromise," the EU source said.

The official said that despite public threat, Turkey did not really want to scrap the migrant deal.



'Common interest'

He also said that while Turkish government was "pushing aggressively" to get visa liberalisation without changing an anti-terror law as required by the EU, it was showing a readiness to find a solution "to outline a way to fulfill" EU criteria.

A solution could be that Turkey makes a commitment to change the controversial law so that the EU says the benchmarks are met.

Asked by EUobserver, French minister Jean-Marc Ayrault did not comment about that possibility but said that it was EU and Turkish "common interest that things make progress".

After weeks of tensions and with a Turkish government increasingly difficult to deal with, the EU source admitted that the EU would have to take a possible Turkish commitment at face value.

"What leverage do we have?," he asked, implying a negative answer.

Turkey purge intensifies, amid EU visa demands

Ankara has refused to amend its terror laws in line with EU preconditions for a visa-waiver pact, but Turkey says it will scrap its migrant deal with the EU if visas are not lifted.

Ankara and Kremlin in charm offensive

Turkey's president Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart Putin in St. Petersburg. The first visit for Erdogan since last month's military coup.

Turkey sends EU mixed message on migration

Turkey's EU minister said in Bratislava his country will continue to respect the migration deal, but would not do more until it gets visa-free EU travel.

EU willing to keep contact with Turkey

The European Commission said it was "gravely concerned" by arrests of political leaders, but is not considering suspending accession talks.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  2. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany
  3. Macron avoids criticising Poland on legal reforms
  4. Denmark, France and Belgium have highest income taxes
  5. ECB split over keeping QE open-ended
  6. Rwanda may resettle 30,000 migrants from Libya
  7. EU tax haven blacklist may include Turkey
  8. No UK 'capital of culture' city post-Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit
  2. UK to call out 'hostile' Russia at EU summit
  3. EU calls for better disease prevention
  4. Eastern Partnership must not be deterred by Russian aggression
  5. EU awaits UK proposals in final push for Brexit breakthrough
  6. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP
  7. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  8. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks