The EU-Turkey relations are getting thornier with each new day, with the most recent stumbling block being the resolution adopted by the European Parliament, which calls for sanctions against Ankara over the partial reopening of the previously fenced off Varosha coastline ghost town in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
BRUSSELS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 28th November, 2020) The EU-Turkey relations are getting thornier with each new day, with the most recent stumbling block being the resolution adopted by the European Parliament, which calls for sanctions against Ankara over the partial reopening of the previously fenced off Varosha coastline ghost town in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
In the resolution adopted by 631 votes in favor and only three against, EU lawmakers condemned Turkey’s activities in a once-popular tourist destination, Varosha, and warned that its partial “opening” weakened prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.
Brussels also urged Ankara to transfer Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the United Nations.
Turkey’s accession talks with the European Union began in 2005 but hit an impasse in 2016 after a failed coup triggered a wave of arrests and prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to tighten his grip on power. Tens of millions of people had been arrested, 140,000 servicemen, civil servants, academics, teachers and journalists were sacked. This became the first red alert for the human rights-oriented Europe.
Tensions further heightened in March of this year after a surge in migrants seeking to enter the EU was observed attempting to cross the land border between Turkey and Greece. The incident prompted the European Union’s border and coast guard agency Frontex to stage a rapid intervention and bolster staffing levels.
At the same time, Turkey has also refused to accept the return of migrants from the Greek islands due to the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of the Brussels-EU six billion euro ($7.1 billion) deal signed to curb the Europe-bound migrant flow.
The EU has also clashed publicly with Turkey throughout this year following Ankara’s decision to conduct seismic exploration surveys in the Mediterranean Sea, which angered Greece and Cyprus.
Last week, Turkey refused the EU’s Operation IRINI request to board a Turkish merchant vessel in the Mediterranean that the bloc believed was violating the United Nations arms embargo on Libya, resulting in condemnation from Brussels.
In October, Erdogan questioned French President Emmanuel Macron’s mental health when criticizing the latter’s statement on France’s determination to enhance battle against radicalized Islamism amid a wave of religion-motivated violence. France has responded by recalling its ambassador from Ankara.
The Turkish leader made other insulting comments directed at European leaders in the past � he said that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had employed “Nazi measures” when European countries prevented Turkish officials from holding campaign rallies on their territory.
Most recently, Turkey actively supported Azerbaijan throughout the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and was accused by some countries of sending mercenaries from Syria to help Baku. Macron said in early October that 300 Syrian militants had been sent to Azerbaijan via the Turkish city of Gaziantep. Erdogan later dismissed such allegations, saying that Syrians have enough to do in their own country.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry decried them as disinformation.
FROM ACCESSION TALKS TO POSSIBLE SANCTIONS
If the European Union imposes sanctions against Turkey this would mean immediate termination of the pre-accession talks, suspension of the customs union, withdrawal of troops from Cyprus and the freezing of all funding.
According to Virginie Joron, a member of the European Parliament and also a member of France’s right-wing Rassemblement National (National Rally) party, it is unlikely that the European Union will act on the European Parliament’s resolution despite all the problems caused by Ankara.
“In Europe, there is this naive idea that Turkey can somehow be appeased and relations brought back to normal. Multiculturalists and federalists have always dreamed of bringing Turkey into the EU. Second, the EU fears the collapse of its migration agreement with Turkey, for which it has earmarked 6 billion euros. The EU is blackmailed by Turkey because it does not itself have adequate border protection due to the Schengen system. The problem also comes from the Germans who do not get involved in this issue and who are the preponderant force of this EU,” Joron told Sputnik.
The French lawmaker added that Berlin and Ankara shared economic interests as well as migration burden, which makes it harder for Brussels to act on Turkey’s actions.
Gilles Lebreton, another French member of the European Parliament representing the National Rally, shares a similar view.
“The problem is Angela Merkel and Germany, which wants to keep its profitable trade with Turkey and is also afraid of its large Turkish population, manipulated by Erdogan and which is in its great majority supporting the Islamists of the [Turkey’s Justice and Development Party] AKP. Merkel is hostage of the Turkish diaspora, so are the Netherlands and other European countries,” Lebreton told Sputnik.
According to Pietro Fiocchi, an industrialist and member of the European Parliament for the Fratelli d’Italia party, the European Union is doomed for failure in its dialogue with Turkey.
“The only leverage that the EU has is the money we give to Turkey to keep borders closed (more than 6 billion euros), and the money Europe still gives for the accession of Turkey to the EU, a ludicrous idea. In my opinion, EU should stop paying Turkey and close the borders. The main problem of Erdogan is economics; after a few months of sanctions, the Turkish people would stop supporting Erdogan. It takes courage to do this and EU will never have courage,” Fiocchi said.
European Parliament members from Greece Eva Kaili, Athanasios Konstantinou and Emmanouil Fragkos agree that the EU sanctions against Turkey are long overdue.
“We have no intention of imposing any sanctions that might hurt the Turkish people. Personally, I would call for prioritizing the ban of EU military equipment exports to Turkey as they might be used against EU Member States, and call upon Germany that has close economic ties to Turkey, to take the responsibility to the EU under better consideration. Double standards applied by member states are hurting the core of our Union,” Kaili told Sputnik.