Time for the EU to reflect on relations with Turkey - analysis

If over the years the EU had been more sympathetic, positive and realistic in its signals sent to Turkey, the country may not have shifted in another direction which is detrimental for both itself and the West, wrote Geoffrey Van Orden, a British Conservative MEP, ECR Defence & Security Spokesman, in an article penned for Vocal Europe Magazine.

Pointing to NATO ally Turkey’s deteriorating relationship with the West, particularly since the country’s July 2016 coup attempt, Van Orden says both sides must more thoroughly examine their response to the putsch, which killed 300 and injured more than 2,100. 

‘’Only four months previously the relationship seemed so different, at least on the surface. The 18 March 2016 EU Statement heralded disbursement of the €3 billion Facility for Refugees in Turkey,’’ he noted, adding that Turkey and the EU also agreed to continue stepping up measures against migrant smugglers and welcomed NATO activity in the Aegean Sea.

It was the West’s ‘’lukewarm condemnation of the coup’’ and hesitant message of support for the government that changed Turkey’s attitude, according to the British conservative MEP.

European Parliament voted to suspend accession talks with Turkey on 6 July 2017, as the country struggled with serious security concerns on its border with Syria, he recalled.

A strong and reliable partner over many decades, Van Orden wrote, Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, its post post- coup crackdown, as well as its support for Hamas are among the leading causes for concern regarding the nation’s commitment to democracy.

The EU, he maintained, in the post-Brexit era must learn to be more flexible with each significant third country and not apply an ‘’unbending template of rules.’’