Turkey and the EU: time for plan B?

After an over half century accession bid, Turkey and the European Union are moving into a new period of relations where tighter cooperation in specific areas will be prioritized over Ankara’s drive for full membership, analysts say. Ties between Turkey and the EU reached a low point in 2017 with the membership process grinding to a halt and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing some key members, including Germany, of behavior reminiscent of the Nazis. But Erdogan has begun 2018 in a different spirit, bounding off in the first week of January on a visit to Paris and his foreign minister making a key fence-mending trip to Germany. Meanwhile, EU leaders have urged a new spirit of realism, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying during Erdogan’s January 5 trip it was time to end the “hypocrisy” that progress could be made on Turkish membership. “There is an understanding on both sides that the accession process is dead and won’t go anywhere soon,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). “So we are essentially talking about a new format and a more transactional relationship with European member states,” she told AFP, adding this would mean more emphasis on trade. “Ankara sees this as such and entertains no illusions about revitalizing the accession process,” she added. ‘Downsizing the relationship’ The July 2016 failed coup marked a watershed moment in the history of Turkey-EU relations, with Ankara accusing the bloc of failing to show solidarity and Brussels sounding… [Read full story]


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