“EU-Turkey Relations following the European Council: Can a Positive Agenda work?”

“EU-Turkey Relations following the European Council: Can a Positive Agenda work?”

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Speakers:
Senem Aydin Düzgit, Professor of International Relations, Sabancı University; Academic Affairs Coordinator, Istanbul Policy Centre
Panagiotis Ioakeimidis, Professor Emeritus of European Politics, University of Athens
Dimitris Kairidis, Professor of International Relations, Panteion University; MP, ND
Nils Schmid, Member of the German Bundestag; SPD’s Foreign Policy Spokesperson
Wolfgang Wessels, Director, Centre for Turkey & European Union Studies, University of Cologne
Moderators: Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, Senior Research Fellow & Head, Turkey Programme, ELIAMEP and Funda Tekin, Director, Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP), Berlin.

03:30 Ioannis N. Grigoriadis introduces himself as well as the panelists.
Question 1: How has Turkey, the government and the civil society, looked into the outcome of the European Council Summit? Has anything changed in EU-Turkey relations? Is the positive agenda working or not? (by Ioannis N. Grigoriadis)
05:22 Senem Aydın-Düzgit talks about the various levels of reception and the criticism in the Turkish political and public sphere by presenting their main opposition points and finally the positive agenda.
Question 2: In your assessment on the narratives leading up to the December 2020 European Council Summit, you observed a significant shift in the European Council conclusions as a reaction to worsening relations. How would you reassess that observation in view of last week’s summit as well as of the joint communication by the high representative? (by Funda Tekin)
16:05 Wolfgang Wessels reassesses his statements by commenting on the positive agenda and issues related to the future of Customs Union. Afterwards, he presents his arguments regarding the high dialogues to be installed between the EU and Turkey as well as visa liberalisation. Wessels believes that the EU-Turkey bridge must continue. He posits that a more problematic issue is the migration cooperation, which is still seen as a major threat for Greece and examines the position of Cyprus in this context.
27:42 Ioannis N. Grigoriadis highlights the significance of both the Cyprus question and the developments in Turkey by underlining the decreasing ability of the EU to have an influence on them.
Question 3: Do you think that there is no chance to achieve a positive agenda to repeat a mini Helsinki in the current circumstances? (by Ioannis N. Grigoriadis)
29:30 Panagiotis Ioakeimidis states that it is possible to repeat the example of Helsinki. He emphasizes the importance of the modernization of the Customs Union, economic cooperation in sectors of mutual interest, visa liberalization and a new funding for refugees and migration. He mentions the absence of relevant EU security arrangements and underlines the need for a revision of the EU-Turkey statement of 2016 on migration. He argues that the Greek policy towards both Turkey and the positive agenda must include engagement, inclusion and conditionality. Overall, he feels optimistic about the positive agenda.
Question 4: What is your assessment of the latest developments of the decisions of last week? Which prospects do you see for the EU-Turkey relationship and the role that Germany can play within it? (by Funda Tekin)
43:03 Nils Schmid says that the German tendency is always to seek dialogue and to play a mediation role. He suggests that the fundamental problems in EU-Turkey relations remain unchanged and that Germany is in management mode. Schmid contends that the EU should proceed with financial support for Syrian refugees on Turkish soil. The existing legal framework of the Customs Union needs to be implemented before discussing the extension. The EU will continue dialogue with Turkey by standing up for their values.
Question 5: Could you share your insights on how the Greek public and the Greek government have viewed the recent European Council decision and on the future of the EU-Turkey relations? (by Ioannis N. Grigoriadis)
01:02:36 Dimitris Kairidis concludes that the Greek public has been very much alerted to the dangers and risks of the aggression that is posed by Turkey. He adds that the Greek politicians will continue to follow the process very closely.
Questions from the audience on the domestic situation in Turkey, German-France, Cyprus issue and migration:
01:20:27 Dimitris Kairidis responds to the question on migration.
01:24:01 Nils Schmid repeats his points on France and Germany, and the need for a common new policy towards Turkey. Finally, he shares his remarks on the arms trade.
01:27:46 Panagiotis Ioakeimidis speaks about the concerns regarding the migration issue and Cyprus.
01:30:52 Wolfgang Wessels refers to the France-German convergence. Regarding Turkey, he agrees that some basic issues will not be solved.
01:34:46 Senem Aydın-Düzgit suggested that the issue of democracy in Turkey is not just a hurdle to any sustainable foreign policy cooperation between the EU and Turkey, it’s also a potential dynamite for European democracy.