EU leaders Thursday (June 24) urged Turkey to continue to ease tensions with the EU as they focused on improving relations with Ankara after the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean increased last year.
The European Union introduced a series of incentives in March to persuade President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deliver on promises to improve tensions.
Since then, Erdogan has worked hard to resolve the long-term dispute with Greece-but after failing to restart peace talks on human rights in Cyprus and Turkey, the EU still has concerns.
“At least the relationship [with Tukey] No deterioration,” an EU diplomat said before the summit, referring to the situation at the end of 2020, which was called “cat and mouse” by the chairman of the council, Charles Michel.
As part of its strategy, the European Union is preparing a plan to provide Turkey with 3.5 billion euros in additional funds from 2021 to 2024 to help it host millions of refugees from Syria.
It concluded that the leaders’ meeting in Brussels required the European Commission to present “without delay” a formal proposal for these funds — part of a broader 5.7 billion euro package for Syria’s neighbors.
Turkey currently hosts 3.7 million refugees from the Syrian conflict and is used by the European Union as a bastion to help prevent the flow of migrants into Europe.
In a previous agreement reached in 2016, Turkey has so far received 4 billion euros to limit the number of people entering the group and is prepared to pay another 2 billion euros.
The new funding plan is part of a series of temptations the group uses to try to get Erdogan aside.
Brussels has also shelved the possible modernization of the customs union in front of Turkey and is beginning to restart high-level talks on health and safety issues.
However, the summit statement stated that “the rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey are still a key issue.”
It also stated that the European Union hopes that Ankara will continue to make “active” contributions to the resolution of regional conflicts because Turkey is deeply involved in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh and Syria.
After Ankara-backed Turkish Cypriot leaders pushed the two countries to help undermine efforts to restart peace talks, it insisted that the European Union remains committed to Cyprus’ “two communities, two zones” solution. Officially, the entire territory of the island of Cyprus is EU territory.
On the contrary, Turkey reiterated its position on the two-State solution.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey occupied the northern third in response to a coup attempted by the military government backed by Athens to incorporate Cyprus into Greece.