European Council president Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen will hold out the prospect of key economic and diplomatic gains for Ankara, including more funding for Turkey’s hosting of millions of Syrian refugees.
But the roadmap for relaunching cooperation – agreed by EU leaders at a summit last month – depends on Erdoğan acting constructively and continuing to de-escalate tensions over Turkey’s gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
An EU official said Tuesday’s meeting in Ankara “will not be the moment for negotiations, but will provide a framework” on the way forward.
The bloc has been encouraged by conciliatory moves from Ankara over the past few months, including the resumption of talks with Greece over a disputed maritime border and steps to restart U.N. peace efforts for divided Cyprus.
Brussels’ approach entails the possibility of modernizing a customs union, liberalizing visa rules, more money for Syrian refugees and a resumption of high-level dialogues on topics from security to health.
But any steps would be “phased, proportionate and reversible”.
“If Erdoğan does not show himself to be cooperative then everything will be blocked,” the official warned.
Convincing the Turkish leader to accept the conditions will not be easy and he has already pressed the EU to move faster towards “concrete results”.
EU members have been split over how to handle Turkey, with Greek Cyprus, Greece and France urging a tough line while others, led by economic powerhouse Germany, want more engagement.
The bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insists the latest offer of cooperation from the bloc’s leaders “could be a new chapter in EU-Turkey relations” after last year’s nadir.
“The situation remains fragile, but the EU welcomes these forthcoming developments and gestures on the part of Turkey and has responded by extending its hand,” he wrote.
The EU also insists it wants to see Turkey “positively contribute” to solving conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh in which Ankara plays a key role.
Hurriyet Daily News