Dec 31st, 2016 by blogger
These days it is a rare incident that a move made by Brussels is received with genuine enthusiasm in Ankara, yet this is precisely what happened last week when the European Commission asked the European Council for a mandate to launch negotiations with Turkey to upgrade the twenty-year old European Union (EU)-Turkey Customs Union.
Turkey is in the awkward position of being bound by a Customs Union agreement despite not being a full member of the EU. In fact, when the customs deal was signed back in 1995, it was deemed a temporary, preliminary step towards Turkey’s full membership. Two decades have passed since, and while the deal has done much to boost bilateral trade and investment, with Turkey’s prospects for being a full member of the European community being bleaker than ever, and the dynamics of global trade having radically changed since the time when the deal was inked, the time is ripe for revising the agreement. As the European Commission stated in its press release, the revision needs to “reflect current EU-Turkey trade relations” as it “would bring substantial economic benefits for both partners.”
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Oct 24th, 2016 by blogger
Turkey and the European Union need to work together more than ever to save lives amid historic challenges, France’s top diplomat has said, admitting the bloc must help Turkey’s development, modernization and democratization even if the road will be long.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who will hold talks in Ankara with top Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Oct. 24, spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News about his visit to Turkey in the aftermath of July 15 failed coup attempt.
How would you describe the coup attempt staged on July 15 in Turkey?
The events during the night of 15 July were a real shock. How could anyone have conceived that an attempted coup d’état against a democratically elected government could still take place in Turkey in 2016? Personally, I have a very clear memory of that moment: the first information coming out of Turkey during the evening of July 15, just 24 hours after France was hit by a large-scale terrorist attack in Nice, on our own national holiday, was another shock. France was one of the first countries to condemn this attempted coup d’état. I remember speaking with the minister of foreign affairs, Mevlüt Ҫavusoǧlu, on July 16 to offer my condolences for all the victims of the putsch, and to commend the courage and commitment of the Turkish people and all groups across the political spectrum to defend Turkey’s democratic institutions. Continue Reading »
Oct 17th, 2016 by blogger
The European Union announced Monday that €467 million out of €3 billion aid pledged for over 3 million refugees living Turkey had been disbursed.
“The total amount of funding allocated under the Facility [for Refugees in Turkey] now stands at over €2.2 billion, with over €1.2 billion already awarded via concrete contracts.
“Of this, €467 million has been disbursed to the implementing partners.
“The balance will be paid progressively as the implementation of the projects advances,” said President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker in a letter on progress in the implementation of the facility.
Juncker said the funding from the Facility, including the funds from the member states, was making a “real, tangible difference” to the lives of the over three million refugees hosted by Turkey, providing support for their immediate healthcare, education, food and protection needs.
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Sep 22nd, 2016 by blogger
Turkish citizens are likely to be given the right to travel visa-free around Europe before Britain leaves the EU, according to a top politician.
Visa-free travel was one of the biggest promises of a deal between Turkey and the European Union which was hammered out in March.
In exchange for freedom of movement and a cash sweetener Turkey would stop the flow of migrants from Syria into Europe.
But there has been uncertainty since then with the foiled July 15 coup attempt and Ankara’s declaration of a three-month state of emergency.
Despite this the foreign minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, says he believes the problems can be ironed out and thinks Turkey will be granted freedom of movement by next year.
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Speaking at a joint press conference with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Ankara on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mesut Cavusoglu (pictured above, second from left) said his government had informed Berlin that German lawmakers would be permitted to visit the Incirlik air base where Bundeswehr soldiers are stationed. The parliamentarians had been banned from the air base after Berlin passed a resolution calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians “genocide.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the statement, saying the decision signaled Turkey’s willingness to return to discussions.
“I am very glad that this issue now seems to be solved,” Steinmeier said. “All efforts should be focused on fighting [Islamic State], and the German presence at the Incirlik air base is part of the German contribution.”
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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday he believes Turkey and the European Union can come to an agreement on a key Turkish demand to ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe.
Turkey had threatened to scrap a pivotal deal with the EU on stemming the flow of migrants heading from Turkey to Europe if the EU failed to fulfill by October a promise to grant Turkish citizens the right to visa-free travel as well as deliver funds to help improve conditions for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Plans to loosen visa rules came to a standstill after Turkey balked at softening its anti-terrorism laws, part of a list of criteria the country is required to fulfill by the EU. Turkey has said it cannot amend terrorism laws while it is facing increased security threats. EU countries want to ensure Turkey cannot use those laws to target academics and journalists.
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Jul 11th, 2016 by blogger
A European Union commissioner has expressed “understanding” for Turkey amid ongoing demands by Brussels for Turkey to change its anti-terror law as part of the visa-free travel deal for Turkish citizens inside the EU.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, told Germany’s Tagesspiel newspaper on July 10 that there is “pressure on Turkey” in its fight against terrorism.
“We should not underestimate the fact that there is enormous pressure on the shoulders of the Turkish government in its fight against terrorism,” Avramopoulos said. Continue Reading »
Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured a southern province close to the Syrian border and announced a new plan to cope with the huge population of Syrian refugees in the country.
“We are going to help our Syrian friends in offering them the chance, if they want it, to acquire Turkish nationality,” he told a group of Syrian refugees in the city of Kilis. “We regard you as our brothers and sisters. You are not far from your homeland, but only from your homes and your land. … Turkey is also your homeland.” Continue Reading »
Turkey’s stalled European Union accession process is set to move forward with the opening of a new chapter on financial and budgetary provisions on June 30 as promised to Ankara in return for its cooperation on stemming the flow of refugees from Syria. Continue Reading »