© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a meeting with EU Council President Charles Michel in Brussels
By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union should begin negotiations on deeper trade relations with Turkey but is ready to impose economic sanctions if Ankara goes against the bloc’s interests, according to a Report prepared for this week’s summit of EU leaders.
The introduction of tighter economic links, interspersed with threats, reflects the complex relationship between Turkey, a candidate for the EU and the world’s largest trading bloc, which is inherently separate but are currently looking for improved relationships.
“Strengthening our already so important economic ties is a win-win situation,” said the EU report. Head of Affairs Josep Borrell and the European Commission.
The report released on Tuesday said Turkey deserves more financial assistance to accept millions of Syrian refugees, as well as visa-free travel to the EU, more high-level diplomatic contacts. and an expanded customs union.
But such progress would only be possible if Turkey, respecting human rights and demonstrating greater flexibility over the divided island of Cyprus and the use of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.
Reclaiming the nearly 1,500 migrants living on the Greek islands, and those now out of legal appeal, will also be critical.
“The refugee situation in Turkey continues to worsen, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic slowdown. Therefore, the EU will need further assistance in the coming years,” the report said. .
The EU is expected to provide new funds from 2022 to the four million refugees Turkey accepts, after about six billion euros ($ 7.13 billion) has been spent in the past four years.
The report says Turkey has failed to adjust its sanctions policy with the EU in the foreign policy realm, as it should. Its policy toward Libya often goes against the EU’s goals.
In December, EU leaders proposed a property freeze and travel ban for Turkey’s “illegal drilling operations” in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.
However, a more constructive tone from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan this year caused the EU to stop implementing those sanctions.
A sliding scale of sanctions, used only as leverage, could include sanctions against individuals, targeting critical sectors such as energy and tourism, the report said.
Targeting tourism, which makes up 12% of Turkey’s economy, appears to be a new threat from Brussels, which has criticized Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. Negotiations over Turkey’s EU membership are frozen.
“If Turkey does not move constructively in developing a real partnership with the EU, it must be made clear that this will have political and economic consequences,” it said.
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