Nov 22 2017

Turkey and EU must work on priorities, Pierini says

The civil war in Syria and the bilateral trade between Turkey and the European Union compel both sides to work together, Marc Pierini, former EU Ambassador to Turkey, wrote at Carnegie Europe.

Pierini listed three priorities:

- Customs Union brought mutual benefits, but an enhanced customs union that Ankara expects requires structural reforms on the Turkish side, such as competition policy, trade union law and public procurement. Erdoğan’s calling “Nazi remnants” insult to various European peoples and Turkey’s jailing of EU citizens “under spurious charges and without documented indictments” are not helping, Pierini noted.

This file photo taken on March 12, 1999 shows workers at the Levi's factory in La Bassee, France reading about the social plan, following announcement by the management of the closure of the plant to outsource in Turkey. AFP/PHILIPPE HUGUEN
This file photo taken on March 12, 1999 shows workers at the Levi's factory in La Bassee, France reading about the social plan, following announcement by the management of the closure of the plant to outsource in Turkey. AFP/PHILIPPE HUGUEN

- Counter-terrorism: As documented by the BBC, the Raqqa battle raises an important question about the fate of the Islamic State (IS) combatants: How their threat could be eliminated, should they choose to bring their fight into Europe? Pierini acknowledged Turkey’s complaints about how European countries are dealing with the Kurdish armed group PKK, but suggest a better cooperation between EU and Turkish police and intelligence services against IS, which is a common threat for both.

People leave flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial in front of Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, illuminated in the colors of the Turkish flag, to pay tribute to the victims of the Reina night club attack in Istanbul in Berlin on January 2, 2017. AFP/ Maurizio Gambarini
People leave flowers at a makeshift memorial in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, illuminated in the colours of the Turkish flag, to pay tribute to the victims of the Reina night club attack in Istanbul, January 2, 2017. AFP/Maurizio Gambarini

- Syrian refugees: Pierini remarked that the March 2016 deal, despite the criticisms for its illegal and immoral essence, is working in the field, with the €3 billion EU fund is being speedily put into good use, as noted by Turkish officials. Yet, Turkish leadership is bashing the EU’s humanitarian efforts in every possible occasion for domestic politics, Pierini observed.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, centre-left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak with refugee children at a classroom as they visit a Syrian refugee camp in Nizip, Gaziantep, Turkey, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Merkel and top European Union officials, under pressure to reassess a migrant deportation deal with Turkey, were traveling close to Turkey's border with Syria on Saturday in a bid to bolster the troubled agreement. (Hakan Goktepe/Pool Photo via AP)
In a bid to bolster the troubled agreement, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak with refugee children in a Syrian refugee camp in Nizip, Gaziantep, Turkey, April 23, 2016. AP/Hakan Goktepe

None of this will be easy, Pierini said, but:

Despite a deteriorating relationship, Brussels and Ankara will have to find a way to work together.