It has now been 22 years since Turkey grew to become a candidate nation for membership of the European Union.
It has been a rocky, and in the end fruitless, highway. In 2018, negotiations have been frozen over what the EU known as Turkey’s backsliding with regard to democracy, the rule of regulation, and elementary rights beneath President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In actuality, negotiations had been frozen since far earlier. The EU desires Ankara to simply accept the reunification of the divided island of Cyprus. Turkey has refused to contemplate something however a two-state resolution for the island.
Even when Cyprus weren’t a crimson line for numerous European states, together with Italy and France – to not point out Greece – there are a selection of different seemingly intractable points between Turkey and the European Union, most just lately over refugees.
Ilke Toygur, analyst of European Affairs at Elcano Royal Institute, stated the assembly with EU leaders is being held throughout tumultuous instances in Turkey.
“Behind closed doorways, the primary (EU) message can be so long as you play together with overseas coverage, there can be an enchancment within the relations,” she stated.
Watch the Euronews video report within the participant above.
Taking part in hardball
Turkey is residence to 4 million Syrian refugees and plenty of extra from elsewhere that wish to attain Europe by way of its maritime border with Greece and Bulgaria. In 2016, the EU agreed to pay Turkey €6 billion to forestall Syrian refugees from crossing to Greece from Turkey.
5 years later, that cash has run out and but thousands and thousands of refugees nonetheless reside in Turkey and wish to cross to Europe. Typically when the EU has a falling out with Ankara – a weekly incidence, it appears just lately – Erdogan threatens to cease stopping refugees heading to Europe.
The Turkish president has proved again and again that he’s prepared to play hardball over the problem, even publicly encouraging migrants and refugees to attempt to entry the EU by way of Greece.
Final 12 months, Ankara enraged Cyprus over offshore drilling in its waters, prompting fears of a navy confrontation between the previous enemies, Turkey and Greece.
At instances, Erdogan has appeared to have been merely trolling Europe together with his coverage shifts and proclamations. On 19 March, the EU heralded a productive video convention between Erdogan, European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen, and Council president Charles Michel.
In an announcement, the EU facet underlined the significance of sustained de-escalation and of additional strengthening confidence constructing to permit for a extra constructive EU-Turkey agenda.
Simply two days later, Erdogan introduced that he was pulling Turkey out of the Istanbul Conference on home abuse by presidential decree, prompting an offended assertion from EU overseas coverage chief, Josep Borrell, who stated Ankara was “sending a harmful message”.
“We can’t however remorse deeply and categorical incomprehension in direction of the choice of the Turkish authorities to withdraw from this conference that even bears the title of Istanbul,” he stated.
However hasn’t solely been Turkey’s actions which have slowed its European path.
Hostility to enlargement
The EU has undoubtedly cooled on the problem of enlargement, dragging its toes over every part from Romania being integrated into Schengen to Montenegro becoming a member of the bloc. If a tiny, pro-Western state like Montenegro, inhabitants 660,000, can’t be part of Europe, what hope for a rustic of 82 million?
As such, Turkey’s EU membership is unlikely to be on the agenda throughout Von der Leyen and Michel’s journey on April 6.
The EU wants a brand new deal on refugees to forestall a repeat of the 2015 migrant disaster, and far of the controversy will seemingly be over how a lot that’s going to price them.
Turkey can be a associate in ending the conflicts in Syria and Libya, in each of which it has been accused of getting favourites, if not direct proxies. With Cyprus, negotiations are resulting from start once more in April – with the EU as an observer – and making certain that Ankara doesn’t scupper them could also be on Europe’s agenda.
As for the rule of regulation, Erdogan has proven no willingness to sluggish the tide of authoritarianism in Turkey, which critics say has been the hallmark of his 18 years in energy. In February, Ankara launched a violent crackdown on scholar demonstrators regardless of threats of EU and US censure, whereas only a day earlier than the summit, 10 retired admirals have been arrested over criticism of the federal government.
This text has been corrected to say that negotiations with Cyprus will happen in April.