The EU is cautiously taking the step towards a relaunch of relations with Turkey. If it shows that it really has serious intentions to cooperate with European neighbours, it can count on better economic ties with the largest trading partner, namely the EU.
President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen the Turks in a conversation with President Erdogan. A visit to the country from the EU summit is a rarity, not least because of the difficult conditions for many years.
But recently there has been some improvement in the relationship, although it all remains extremely vulnerable. At a last months EU summit, a more positive tone was cautious towards Turkey after the increased tensions, notably Greece and Cyprus, over (illegal) gas drilling by the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean had decreased following a reduction in the Turkish ship was withdrawn.
EU leaders were looking for a better relationship to the Turks after their summit. Among other things, a modernisation of the customs union which the Turks would like is on the table. It is a sausage that is kept to Turkey in the hope that Ankara will bite.
But how bumpy the course with Erdogan is, it soon became clear. The ink of the EU conclusions was not yet dry or the Turkish President withdrew the Istanbul Convention, a treaty to protect women from domestic violence, because it would be contrary to traditional family values. On the contrary, the EU fears that the position of women will be violated.
“ We are putting a positive mutual agenda on the table here,” says Michel on Tuesday at a joint press conference with Von der Leyen. “We hope that Turkey will seize this positive momentum.” It is clear that it is about reversible steps, in other words, if the situation worsens again everything goes off the table.
Turkey has welcomed a total of 4 million Syrian refugees since it concluded a controversial deal with this with the EU in 2016. In total, it received 6 billion euros for the reception. Despite all the criticism, the deal continues to this day. The agreement will have to be renewed in the course of the year.
“ This is the beginning of a process”, was Von der Leyen cautious. “Where it goes depends also on the involvement on the Turkish side. How sustainable the developments of recent weeks have yet to be proven.” According to the German people, human rights are not negotiable anyway, it sounds warning to Erdogan.