The joint statement of the EU leaders after the March 25 Summit on Turkey is particularly positive, as a positive agenda is being promoted, the multirateral conference for the Eastern Mediterranean is organized by the High Representative, just as Turkey wished, and the “monitoring” of Turkey continues until the June Summit.
The joint statement recalled the European Union’s strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. European leaders welcome the recent de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean with the discontinuation of illegal drilling activities, the resumption of bilateral talks between Greece and Turkey and the forthcoming talks on the Cyprus issue under the auspices of the United Nations.
“Provided that the current de-escalation is sustained and that Turkey engages constructively, and subject to the established conditionalities set out in previous European Council conclusions, in order to further strengthen the recent more positive dynamic, the European Union is ready to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner to enhance cooperation in a number of areas of common interest and take further decisions at the European Council meeting in June:
- a) on economic cooperation, we invite the Commission to intensify talks with Turkey to address current difficulties in the implementation of the Customs Union, ensuring its effective application to all Member States, and invite in parallel the Council to work on a mandate for the modernisation of the Customs Union. Such a mandate may be adopted by the Council subject to additional guidance by the European Council;
- b) we are prepared to launch high level dialogues with Turkey on issues of mutual concern, such as public health, climate and counter-terrorism as well as regional issues;
- c) we invite the Commission to explore how to strengthen cooperation with Turkey on people to people contacts and mobility. the statement said.
The EU calls on Turkey to refrain from new challenges or unilateral actions in violation of international law, and reiterates the European Union’s determination to use, in the event of such an action, the means and options at its disposal to defend its interests and the interests of its Member States, as well as to uphold regional stability.
The Summit estimates that Turkey is hosting around 4 million Syrian refugees and agrees to continue the European Union’s assistance to refugees and host communities.
With regard to migration management, as part of the EU’s broader strategy covering all migration routes, co-operation with Turkey should be strengthened, in particular in areas such as border protection, the fight against illegal immigration and the return to Turkey of illegal immigrants and rejected asylum seekers, in accordance with the EU-Turkey Statement, applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
EU leaders recall the previous conclusions of the European Council and remain fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (in particular resolutions 550, 789 and 1251). In addition, the EU remains committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue in line with UN Security Council resolutions, looking forward to the resumption of UN-sponsored negotiations, in which the European Union will participate as an observer, and play an active role in supporting negotiations, including appointing a representative to the UN Good Offices Mission.
The rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey remain a major issue for the EU, with recent decisions in Turkey being a setback. Dialogue on these issues remains an integral part of the EU-Turkey relationship.
In the common interest of the EU and Turkey for peace and stability around them, the EU expects Turkey and all actors to make a positive contribution to resolving regional crises, such as in Libya, Syria and the South Caucasus, and we will vigilant on the alert on this matter.
In addition, EU leaders are calling on the High Representative to step up work on the Eastern Conference
According to the communication, the EU will continue to monitor developments closely and seek a coordinated approach with partners. The European Council will return to this issue at its meeting in June./ibna