EU ready to re-engage with Turkiye, But sets strict conditions

  • Turkiye’s accession to the European Union has been at a standstill since 2016 due to concerns surrounding human rights violations and the country’s commitment to the rule of law.

BRUSSELS: European Union foreign ministers have reached an agreement on re-engaging with Turkiye, subject to certain conditions, and have not endorsed Ankara’s request to revive its membership bid. Turkiye has been an official candidate for EU membership for 24 years, but accession talks have stalled since 2016 due to the bloc’s concerns about human rights violations and the rule of law.

On July 10, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan surprised many by calling for a re-opening of accession talks, linking the idea to Turkiye’s approval of Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance.

“We discussed how to re-engage with Turkiye,” stated EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during a press conference after the foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels. “We are convinced that there is a reciprocal interest in developing a stronger relationship between Turkiye and the European Union.”

However, the EU has emphasized that it expects Turkiye to show movement on certain issues, particularly with regards to EU member Cyprus, the northern part of which was invaded by Turkiye in 1974 and has remained under occupation since then.

“Solving the Cyprus issue in line with the relevant United Nations resolutions will be key in this re-engagement with Turkiye,” Borrell emphasized. “Furthermore, upholding fundamental freedoms and values as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Ankara is a party, will be essential.”

Ankara is expecting concrete progress from the EU on issues such as visa-free travel and the closing of some chapters in the EU accession process. A senior Turkish official told Reuters earlier this month that the West must support Turkiye in its financial needs as well.