Monday

16th May 2022

US blames EU for Turkey foreign policy 'drift'

  • Hundreds of Turks protested in Brussels last week against the Israeli attack (Photo: Valentina Pop)

US defence minister Robert Gates said that the EU's refusal to accept Turkey as a member is partly to blame for Ankara's deteriorating relations with Israel and for pushing the country into the arms of Islamic states, a suggestion firmly rejected by Brussels.

"The deterioration in the relationship between Turkey and Israel over the past year or so is a matter of concern," Mr Gates told reporters in London.

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 conservative Turkish government, whose relations with neighbouring Islamic states such as Syria and Iran have grown closer, has meanwhile put on freeze relations with its former regional ally Israel after nine of its citizens were killed by Israeli commandos on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza.

"I personally think that if there is anything to the notion that Turkey is, if you will, moving eastward, it is, in my view, in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought," he argued.

Traditionally a strong US ally and the only Muslim member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation since 1952, Turkey has consistently enjoyed Washington's support in its bid EU membership, for which it applied in 1987.

Formal accession negotiations began in 2005, but progress has been slow and Germany and France continue to speak of the alternative of a "privileged partnership" instead of full membership at the end of the process.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton rejected Mr Gates' suggestion that there is any link between the EU membership negotiations and Turkey's strained relations with Israel.

"The EU has very good relations with both Turkey and Israel. Turkey is an EU candidate country and Israel an important partner. The bilateral relations between these two countries are not linked with the bilateral relations between the EU and each of these countries," Maja Kocijancic, Ms Ashton's spokeswoman told this website.

"As far as Turkey is concerned, progress in accession negotiations depends on the progress in reforms taking place in Turkey," she added.

Ties between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated in recent years, especially after Tel Aviv's 2008 bombardment of the Gaza Strip that killed some 1,400 civilians and the recent killing of the nine Turkish activists, which prompted Ankara to recall its ambassador, scrap joint military drills and say its relations "will never be as before."

But Turkey's relations with the US itself have also worsened over the last decade, particularly after its refusal to open its skies to international troops bound for Iraq.

Turkish foreign policy chief Ahmet Davutoglu also openly expressed his disappointment at Washington's reaction over the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla, which did not assign blame to the Jewish state and resulted in a watered down reaction from the UN Security Council.

UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

British foreign secretary Liz Truss said the UK has "no choice but to act" on the Northern Ireland protocol governing post-Brexit trade during a call with EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič — who warned unilateral action was "simply not acceptable".

UK threatens to scrap post-Brexit trade deal

The UK rejected proposals by the EU to tweak the protocol governing trade in Northern Ireland, and has threatened to suspend the rules as loyalists lost their majority in the Northern Ireland elections.

Syria donor conference shuns Russia

Russia was not invited to an international donor conference on Syria in Brussels given its war in Ukraine. Moscow had also recently threatened to veto a humanitarian corridor from Turkey to Syria.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

Opinion

Is EU 'Horizon' science funding going towards Pegasus spyware?

MEPs have raised questions about the involvement of the EU — through its funding — in the development of the Israeli NSO Pegasus software, directly or indirectly, which has been used to target activists and journalists in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. German ruling party in regional election blow
  2. EU expanding arms-for-Ukraine programme
  3. Reports: EU drafts plans for Russia energy payments
  4. Pro-Russian hackers targeted Eurovision
  5. EU to donate extra €400m for Africa vaccines rollout
  6. Spain plans five-days 'menstrual leave' and to ease abortion rules
  7. MEPs reject proposal for stricter 2030 target on cars and vans
  8. Study: EU spent €341m on AI border technology

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  3. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  4. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersHuge support for Ukraine
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBWorkers want EC to limit subcontracting chains in construction

Latest News

  1. Sweden to join Finland in applying for Nato
  2. Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK
  3. Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?
  4. EU reaches deal on flagship cybersecurity law
  5. EU to help Ukraine export grain — amid food shortages fears
  6. Revealed: Big Oil shaped EU's gas-cutting strategy
  7. EU: Ukrainians hesitating to register for protection
  8. UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us