Turkey pushes for progress in EU ties ahead of June summit

Turkey is hoping to see progress in its relations with the European Union at June’s European leaders meeting, Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Thursday.

“We expect concrete steps, especially on modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union, and the refugee deal,” Kalin said ahead of talks with German officials, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Kalın is in Berlin to discuss the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya as well as recent developments in the Middle East, Anadolu said.  

Political tensions between Ankara and Brussels intensified last year amid a row between Turkey and EU member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and access to hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.

The EU threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over the issue in December. However, following a charm offensive led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, EU leaders rowed back on the measures.

At March’s European Council meeting, the EU said it was “ready to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner, provided that the current de-escalation is sustained and that Turkey engages constructively”.

Incentives for constructive Turkish engagement included the possibility of modernising the customs union to include services, farm goods and public procurement, as well as further financial support for the near 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, the EU said.

Kalın said the European Council and the European Commission now needed to act ahead of next month’s meeting in Brussels on June 24.

“We can develop a positive agenda in EU-Turkey relations if the European side takes concrete steps,” he said.

Erdoğan will likely meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, he said, emphasising that Ankara and Berlin have maintained close dialogue on both regional and global issues.

Turkey has been an official EU candidate country since 1999 but accession negotiations have stalled in recent years due to Ankara’s failure to comply with the required criteria on human rights and the judiciary.


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