EU leaders’ Turkey visit to span many issues: Experts

In an upcoming visit by top EU officials to Turkey, experts in the country expect a multitude of essential, including the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, migration and the economy, will be on the agenda.

EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and EU Council head Charles Michel will pay an official visit to Turkey on Tuesday.

The talking points during the visit have already been set in a report by the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on EU-Turkey ties, noted Zuhal Mert Uzuner, a senior international politics expert.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Uzuner said: “Turkey is being dealt with as a neighbor country and under in these circumstances, the goal is to improve relations. Its [Turkey’s] status as a candidate [for EU accession] is not being mentioned. This suggests that the EU is approaching relations from a strategic perspective and that the first priority is to make progress in areas where cooperation is possible.”

She said that the main aim for Brussels appeared to be to negotiate with Turkey on the issues of migration, the economy, trade and updating the Customs Union, along with regional problems such as the Eastern Mediterranean, Southern Caucasus, Libya, and Syria. “It can be said that in this context, a strategic perspective will be more prominent in the EU accession process, instead of the value-based approach we are used to.”

Drawing attention to the importance of the visit, Can Baydarol, deputy chairman of the EU and Global Studies Foundation (ABKAD), argued that updating the Customs Union could be a major point of discussion during the visit.

The EU Commission was authorized on the matter at the EU Leaders Summit that took place on March 25 and 26, and the update could be possible after another leaders summit in June, he said.

Baydarol also stressed that the von der Leyen and Michel’s visit should be understood as a sign of high-level political dialogue between Turkey and the EU, adding that Ankara’s ultimate goal would always be accession and that this should not be overshadowed.

– Normalization

Speaking more cautiously on the visit and recent positive trend in Turkish-EU relations, Emre Gonen, another expert in international politics, asserted that the two officials would come with a maximalist agenda and demand Ankara compromise on issues in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.

Gonen underlined that there was a lack of political will in the EU, which he said was pursuing a policy of double-standards towards Turkey. He added that the expected normalization in Turkish-EU relations would not be easy.

“However, the EU has shelved its tough, threatening stance of the EU. This is good,” Gonen added.

In agreement with Gonen, Ahmet Zeki Bulunc, a former diplomat and expert on the Eastern Mediterranean, emphasized that Brussels’ priorities were to protect the interests of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, both of which are EU member states.

“The EU’s ultimate goal is to end the Turkish presence in Cyprus,” he added.

Tensions have been running high for months in the Eastern Mediterranean as Greece has disputed Turkey’s rights to energy exploration.

Turkey — the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean — sent out drillships to explore for energy resources on its continental shelf, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Greece has made maximalist maritime territorial boundary claims based on small islands just kilometers off the Turkish coast. To reduce tensions, Ankara has called for dialogue and negotiations to ensure fair sharing of the region’s resources.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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