The German government is advocating for closer cooperation between the European Union and Turkey but rejects any “gifts” in the stalled accession process. This was made clear by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) during a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels on Thursday.
During the last EU summit, Germany had already called for a rapprochement. As a result, it was agreed to prepare a report on the state of relations between the EU and Turkey, aimed at a “strategic and future-oriented approach.”
Baerbock stated that after the re-election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the end of May, it was important to reconsider cooperation with a “not easy neighbor but a global, strategically important player in our immediate vicinity.” The Green politician specifically mentioned the Russian war against Ukraine and the climate crisis. “Now, after the elections, is a moment for strategic reflection,” said Baerbock.
Regarding the accession process with the Ankara government, which is currently “deep in the freezer,” Baerbock, however, emphasized that they are not naïve and that there are no gifts because these are difficult times. The reason for this, she said, lies in shortcomings in essential issues such as the rule of law and human rights protection.
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn stated that after the decision to start EU accession negotiations with Turkey in 2004, negotiations on human rights were initially conducted well. However, since 2011, things have “gone in the wrong direction.” The issue of Cyprus also remains unresolved. Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos made the approach between Turkey and the EU dependent on progress in talks to end the Turkish invasion of parts of the island in the Mediterranean.
Cyprus has been divided into a “Turkish north” (not acknowledged by anyone except Turkey) and a “Greek south” since 1974. Kombos demanded an end to this situation, stating, “We expect a prompt resumption of substantive negotiations leading to a solution to the Cyprus issue.” Turkey is the only state that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, declared in 1983.
Former ruler Erdoğan had called for a resumption of accession talks with the EU before the NATO summit in Lithuania last week. Initially, he made this a condition for Sweden’s accession to the military alliance but later relented. The EU suspended accession negotiations with Turkey, which began in 2005, at the end of 2016. The reason was the massive arrests of opposition members of the Erdoğan regime following the alleged coup attempt in July, seven years ago.