Last night the think tank Carnegie Europe organized a timely panel discussion on Turkey-EU relations. The event was on occasion of the launch of their report “A Moment of Opportunity in the EU-Turkey Relationship” by Carnegie scholars Marc Pierini and Sinan Ülgen. The event was well attended and the debate led to a lively discussion.Pierini and Ülgen make a plea for broader engagement with Turkey. While the political context for advancing accession talks is becoming even more difficult (not the least also because of developments in Turkey itself), the EU´s toolbox offers opportunities for new policies and cooperation instruments. With the accession talks continuing, these developments could also give new impetus to the enlargement process. In the Carnegie paper, 5 areas of cooperation are highlighted: trade and economic relations, EU accession process, mobility and migration, foreign policy and counter-terrorism.
I very much welcome such a balanced and constructive approach. There are serious concerns about certain developments in Turkey, especially those touching the core values of the EU, such as the independence of the judiciary, fundamental rights and the freedom of expression. Where the political divergence arises is how to address these concerns. I strongly believe that when there are problems in a relationship with an important partner such as Turkey, we do not walk away and isolate the country; to the contrary, we step up our engagement. There is a variety of tools available to the EU, which we haven´t used yet in order to use our leverage on necessary reforms in Turkey.
Interested in the debate? You can watch the video here: