EU leaders said on Thursday that they were “ready to work with Turkey” as long as Ankara continues its moderate behavior after their Summit in Brussels.
The bloc welcomed the Joint Declaration on the state of EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations prepared by EU High Representative Josep Borell and the Commission at the request of the European Council in December 2020, the conference said in a statement.
However, it was underscored that a secure and stable environment in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the development of cooperation and a mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey, are of strategic interest to the EU.
EU Leaders: “Ready to work with” Turkey
An official statement released to the press after the meetings said:
“Provided that the current de-escalation is maintained and that Turkey engages constructively and is subject to the established conditions set out in the previous European Council conclusions, in order to further strengthen the more recent positive momentum, the European Union is ready to work with Turkey in a gradual, proportionate and reversible way of strengthening cooperation in various areas of common interest and taking further decisions at the June European Council meeting.”
Greek government sources were quoted as saying that they believed that the European Union is not giving Turkey a blank check in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to the conclusions adopted by EU leaders in the virtual meeting on Thursday.
According to these sources, the EU called on Turkey to refrain from renewed provocations or unilateral actions in violation of international law, offering Ankara a “phased, proportionate and reversible” manner to enhance their mutual cooperation.
Turkey must show “consistency and continuity”
They noted, however, that EU leaders said that Turkey “will have to show consistency and continuity and will continue to be evaluated,” and any decisions will be referred to the European Council meeting that is slated to take place in June, they noted.
Government officials expressed satisfaction overall with the joint statement of the 27 leaders of the European Union on Turkey, which, as they say, is based on the Borell report and confirms the results of previous European Councils in the neighboring country.
This is a two-pronged approach, which includes positive measures but also sanctions, which will come to bear if Turkey repeats its unilateral actions and aggressive behavior.
The EU leaders also discussed immigration and refugees, and Turkey was called upon to co-operate in the fight against illegal immigration and the return of migrants to Turkey on the basis of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration, which, they stated, should be implemented.
Turkey “not given a blank check”
“All decisions are gradual, conditional and reversible. Turkey is not given a blank check, the conduct of which will be assessed with the relevant decisions being referred for June,” Greek government officials said.
According to the same people, “significant changes have been made compared to the original draft after extensive negotiations” and as they stressed, “the final text is balanced and reflects the Borrell report”.
Charles Michel Tweeted that at the end of the meetings on Thursday afternoon, he was looking forward to a speech by US President Joe Biden, who was to address the assembly in the evening.
Welcoming @POTUS to the European Council tonight.
By standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder, the EU & US can show that democracies are best suited to protect citizens, promote dignity, and generate prosperity. pic.twitter.com/DuYRVOmRbQ
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) March 25, 2021