In an effort to attract more investment and address its ongoing economic crisis, Turkey seeks to get closer to EU and potentially revive its membership bid after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election in May.
Formal accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey began in 2005, but the process has stalled over the years. The ties between Turkey and the EU have been strained due to concerns over Erdogan’s perceived crackdown on political opponents.
However, on July 10, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made a surprising call to resume Ankara’s accession negotiations. He connected this proposal to Turkey’s willingness to support Sweden’s aspiration to join the NATO military alliance. The Turkish parliament still needs to ratify this decision.
Yesterday, according to Bloomberg, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek also made remarks suggesting Turkey wants be closer to EU saying “All we need is to allow us to continue on a journey that is so relevant in terms of wholesale transformation,”. He added “We look up to EU as source of inspiration for change. That is the best alternative out there.” In this context, Simsek suggested that the initial steps towards re-engaging with the EU could involve allowing some Turkish agricultural goods and services to be included in the bloc’s customs union.
These statements come as EU foreign ministers agreed last week to re-engage with Turkey, recognizing the mutual interest in developing a stronger relationship between the two. However, they set certain conditions and did not endorse Ankara’s calls to revive its stalled membership bid. Among the issues the EU wants Turkey to address are concerns about human rights violations, respect for the rule of law, and the long-standing Cyprus issue, where the northern part of the island has been under Turkish occupation since 1974.
As the talks between Turkey and the EU resume, both sides must grapple with complex economic and political challenges. For Turkey, meaningful progress in implementing reforms and addressing human rights issues will be crucial for strengthening its relationship with the EU. Conversely, the EU’s engagement with Turkey may play a role in supporting Turkey’s financial needs and addressing its concerns, while also ensuring that fundamental freedoms and values are upheld. Balancing these interests will be vital to building a more cooperative and constructive partnership between Turkey and the EU.
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