Saturday

15th May 2021

EU-Turkey ties cooling further

Ties between the EU and Turkey appear to be cooling further after last December's partial freeze of Turkish membership talks, with Ankara cancelling a key meeting with the EU and with a Turkish-Cypriot row mounting over oil exploration rights.

German and Turkish media report that Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul has been unwilling to visit Brussels or other EU capitals ever since the bloc last December suspended eight chapters of Turkey's 35-chapter EU membership negotiations book, as a sanction for Ankara's continued refusal to allow trade from EU member state Cyprus.

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

  • The Turkish foreign minister does not feel compelled to come to Brussels at the moment (Photo: EUobserver)

Mr Gul this week cancelled a March meeting of the so-called EU-Turkey Association Council, a formal body where Ankara, the European Commission and EU governments can take joint decisions, with the commission confirming to German daily Handelsblatt that the meeting will now be shifted to a later date, probably June.

The move by Ankara is seen as political, with Turkish officials telling Handelsblatt that Ankara currently has "other priorities" after the EU's December decision.

This year's Turkish elections - for the presidency in April and for the parliament in November - are also seen as playing a role in Ankara's attitude, with the popularity of the EU in Turkey last year suffering severe setbacks following the row with Brussels over Cyprus.

Germany, the current presidency of the EU, has said it wants to open two chapters that were not suspended by the EU in December - but Cyprus looks unwilling to agree to the idea.

Cypriot diplomats immediately after the December deal said that Nicosia's consent to opening negotiating chapters would be made dependent on Turkey's stance on other issues - such as Ankara's blocking of Cypriot participation in strategic EU-NATO discussions.

Moving ahead with the talks "requires the consensus of all the member states, which is difficult to guarantee,'' Turkey's chief negotiator with the EU Ali Babacan said on Thursday (15 February) according to Bloomberg.

He added that "Greek Cypriots are quite creative in finding new areas of dispute'' and reap "continued benefits as long as the dispute continues."

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are more new areas of dispute created by the Greek Cypriot side.''

Cyprus is currently embroiled in a new spat with Turkey over oil and gas exploration rights in the Mediterranean, for which Nicosia recently issued a tender.

Ankara says Turkish Cypriots in the north of the divided island should have a say in the exploration rights and this week warned Nicosia to cancel the tender.

A Turkish government spokesman said that "continuation of the tender process will adversely affect peace and stability on the island of Cyprus," according to the BBC.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us