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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the European Union (EU) to accept his country into the EU after Brexit.
“We have not abandoned our desire to obtain full membership in the EU. The growing uncertainty that Brexit has brought with it will be eliminated only after Turkey receives membership,” Erdogan said, speaking in Ankara.
Turkey in 1963 signed an association agreement with the EU, in 1987 it applied for membership in the union. However, the accession negotiations began only in 2005, and were repeatedly suspended due to disagreements. Sixteen out of 35 chapters of the negotiations dossier are now open. In March 2016, Brussels stepped up negotiations in exchange for Turkey’s agreement to help reduce the flow of migrants to Europe.
What are the arguments in the dialogue between Brussels and Ankara? What will be the consequences of Turkey’s accession to the EU? Before the historic summit of the European Union in Copenhagen, discussions on this topic have flared up with renewed vigor.
In his column for the British newspaper The Financial Times, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on the European Union to resume negotiations on Turkey’s membership in the EU and thereby “accelerate the process of Ankara’s joining the community”.
In the year that Brexit was finalized, pushing away from itself the only large European state still aspiring to become a member of the EU and, moreover, a responsible player, confirming words with deeds, is the largest political recklessness in the memory of many generations. Turkey, the UK and the EU need to work together and stabilize the situation in neighboring regions, the diplomat wrote.
Many problems have accumulated in relations between Turkey and the EU in recent years. Thus, Brussels has been accusing Ankara of human rights violations and criticizes for drilling in a gas field in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus. In response to this, in the summer of 2019, the EU foreign ministers approved sanctions against Turkey. Ankara, for its part, accuses Brussels of not fulfilling its obligations – in particular, under the 2016 migration agreement.
At that point, the parties agreed that Turkey, in exchange for gradual cash tranches for the maintenance of refugees (€ 6 billion) and a visa-free regime, would accommodate refugees from the East – mainly from Syria. However, an exacerbation in the Syrian province of Idlib in February 2020 led to Ankara opening its western borders and allowing refugees to flow to Europe. The greatest pressure was on the Greek-Turkish border.
For Turkey, the very process of accession was important – in the country, based on the requirements of EU membership, a number of changes have taken place, including in terms of legislation. Moreover, European businesses – in particular those of France and Germany – are significantly integrated into the Turkish economy.
Expansion through new members is one of the points of the EU strategy, calculated until 2024. For the first time in recent years, the now former head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, proposed to reform the EU. It might have limited itself to cosmetic measures but after Britain voted to leave the union in 2016 and began to struggle, but move towards this goal, the overdue reform was announced in general.
Turkey’s entry into the EU would make it much easier for refugees to enter Europe, but this is what the governments of most European states fear. Serious concerns in European structures are also caused by the difficulties in relations between Turkey and Cyprus against the background of the problem of the occupied northern territories.
Finally, “castling”, like Britain at the exit, and Turkey at the entrance, looks like a very controversial idea even in the eyes of the tolerant European public.