Turkey’s EU ties may strengthen under new framework – analyst

Turkey’s ties with the European Union could intensify under a new framework, now that accession appears to be a distant prospect, according to Ozay Mehmet, senior fellow at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

The EU should update the relationship to include progress on a new customs union, which would remove unfair trade treatment with third countries, closer partnership in energy, an agreed payment timetable for refugee management and a new mechanism to solve the Cyprus problem, perhaps as part of a larger Turkish-Greek cooperation agreement, Mehmet said in an analysis for Social Europe.

“Now, at the start of a new year, it may be the right time to redefine Turkey-EU relations on a brand-new footing of mutual trust and respect. That would pay huge dividends if only ‘honesty is the best policy’ were adopted,” he said.

Turkey-EU relations will require new emphasis to ensure energy security, as Turkey is a vital actor in the Southern Gas Corridor, Caspian basin gas will start flowing to Turkey through TANAP this year, and Russian gas through the Turkish Stream 2 across the Black Sea is not far behind, Mehmet said.

The EU also has the opportunity to develop a more active peacekeeping role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supported by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as U.S. isolationism under Donald Trump is now becoming more apparent, he said.