Monday

12th Apr 2021

EU must not ditch Turkey, ministers warn

  • "We should not push Turkey into a corner,” said the British foreign minister, Boris Johnson (Photo: Council of the EU)

EU foreign ministers said on Monday (14 November) that the bloc should be careful not to rupture relations with Turkey despite concerns over human rights.

"We should not push Turkey into a corner,” said British foreign minister Boris Johnson, following a new wave of arrests of opposition MPs and journalists in Turkey.

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

“We should not overreact in a way that is against our collective interests ... remember, they had a very serious situation there, an attempted coup”, he said, referring to July’s failed putsch, which prompted Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch a purge of alleged coup sympathisers.

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said Erdogan’s actions put in doubt his intention to one day join the EU.

“When you hear talk of reintroduction of the death penalty, when you see operations such as the arrest of the parliamentary opposition leader, one wonders whether these [EU entry] conditions will be met or not”, he said.

“But we will not close the door to Turkey. Italy has always been open to Turkey’s European path.”

He said EU-Turkey relations were “more difficult” than ever, referring to one of Erdogan’s ideas - to hold a referendum on future EU membership.

He added that the EU-Turkey deal on stopping migrants from travelling to Greece “can be improved, but it works”.

Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini told reporters he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Sunday and that “the EU is not popular in Turkey at the moment”.

“Mevlut said that EU does not interest them. There are anti-EU feelings and the Turks feel betrayed and left on their own [after the failed putsch],” he said.

"When it comes to parliamentary democracy in Turkey, the situation is definitely getting worse. The Turks are shocked after the failed coup d'etat, but they should not use it as an excuse to crush the legitimate opposition."

Soini said reintroducing the death penalty was an “absolute red line for the EU”.

He added that “the EU has many reasons to have cooperation with Turkey”, despite the crackdown, however.

“The agreement on migration is important for EU but also for Turkey - it would not want uncontrolled flow of migrants within its borders. There are also important economic interests between Europeans and Turkey. Then there are the geopolitical reasons; there will be no lasting solution for conflicts in Syria or Iraq without Turkey,” he said.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto added his voice to the chorus of apologists.

“We need a rational and cool-headed response. Europe’s security starts with Turkey’s stability,” Szijjarto said.

Opinion

Reasons not to end EU-Turkey talks

Stopping EU talks with Turkey would undermine democratic forces in Ankara, kill the Cyprus deal, and make the Middle East even more unstable.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us