May 23. 2024. 8:06

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EU member states weigh a ‘positive message’ to Turkey

European Union diplomats have been negotiating ‘how positive’ the message sent to Turkey at the EU summit on Thursday (17 April) should be and whether it should offer something tangible to Ankara, Euractiv has learnt.

EU leaders are expected to discuss the issue of Turkey over dinner on Wednesday, focussing on a report produced by the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, on the state of play of EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations.

An EU diplomat told Euractiv that all leaders want to send a positive message to Ankara, acknowledging the recent de-escalation of tensions between Greece and Cyprus.

“But there are talks about how positive this message will be”, the diplomat said, adding that some countries insist that Turkey should not be granted a “blank cheque”.

Euractiv has learnt that Germany, which pushed for a discussion over Turkey at the last summit, wants a more positive message toward Ankara.

Italy and Spain seem to agree with Berlin’s position and push for Turkey to be offered something “tangible”, according to a source close to the matter.

The talks continued on Tuesday night at the diplomat level, with disagreements remaining on wording.

EU leaders will state that the bloc has a “strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean” and in the development of a “cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey”, according to the draft conclusions.

The EU leaders will also ask Borrell to continue monitoring the progress of EU-Turkey relations “in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner, subject to additional guidance from the European Council as needed”.

Athens and Nicosia insisted on adding this sentence as a safety net if Ankara decides to re-escalate.

The Cyprus issue

The draft conclusions also state that the bloc will attach “considerable importance” to the resumption of and progress in the Cyprus settlement talks, which can also “enhance EU-Turkey cooperation”.

The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 after a Turkish invasion. Ankara invoked an Athens-backed coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece, but since then, it has been occupying 37% of the island.

The EU and the United Nations insist on a solution to the Cyprus problem based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation.

Brussels rejected the scenario of a two-state solution, which Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar recently pushed forward.

Read more: EU leaders to insist on Cyprus talks progress amid calls for two-state solution

For the EU diplomat, a two-state solution for Cyprus would create “numerous and complex” issues in the EU decision-making process, which is something “EU policymakers should consider”.

The conclusions suggest that the EU is ready to actively support all stages of the UN-led process using all appropriate means.

However, the EU is not directly involved in the talks, and Nicosia has been asking for a special EU envoy in Cyprus.

The Cypriot proposal has so far met the opposition of some member states, including Germany, who do not want the EU to have active role in the matter.

Read more with Euractiv

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