The positive agenda between the EU and Turkey “could pave the way for a more constructive relationship,” a key EU lawmaker said Friday.
Ryszard Czarnecki, the head of the EU-Turkey Friendship Group in the European Parliament, told Anadolu Agency that after a difficult year, 2021 started with relatively positive signals from Ankara for EU-Turkey relations.
"In particular, the resumption of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece, along with the stabilization of the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, made it possible for the European Council to offer Turkey a forward-looking agenda that protected the core interests of all sides," Czarnecki said.
Czarnecki said during these six months, the EU witnessed the slow but steady emergence of a dynamic in the eastern Mediterranean that facilitated constructive approaches.
"Week by week, it became clearer to all parties that concentrating on narrow, maximalist national positions would only deepen the divides between them. At the same time, the EU as a whole made clear that all its members could rely on the principle of European solidarity. The resumption of talks between Turkey and Greece, and de-escalation in the eastern Mediterranean, reflect all sides’ interest in negotiated solutions."
‘We are working to intensify relations’
Czarnecki noted that as the founding chairman of the EU-Turkey Friendship Group, he brings his experience and perspectives on Turkey and on wider global political, economic and social issues to the position.
He underlined the EU-Turkey Friendship Group is a cross-party non-partisan platform that promotes high-level dialogue among European and Turkish decision-makers, the business community and civil society to bring Turkey and the EU closer together.
"At the Friendship Group, we aim to analyze and highlight important issues emanating from Turkey’s geostrategic position and put Turkey into a broader context. Such issues include Turkey’s evolving relationship with Europe and its role in the Belt and Road initiative, aimed at strengthening trade and infrastructure links between Asia and Europe," he said.
"Through constructive gatherings on a wide variety of topics and parliamentary diplomacy, we are working to intensify relations between the people working in and for Turkey, the EU institutions as well as member states."
Turkey is part of Europe
Stating that Turkey is a part of European diplomacy since the Concert of Europe in 1815, Czarnecki said relations between the EU and Turkey date back decades, to the country’s application for an association with the then-European Economic Community in 1959, followed by the Association Agreement in 1963.
"Then-European Commission President Walter Hallstein called the agreement an event of great political significance and called Turkey is part of Europe," he said.
"Despite being one of the first countries to create an association with the European Community, Turkey was unable to move swiftly in the direction of further integration in the half-century since. Numerous complex political developments on both sides were responsible for this," he added.