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Turkey: Remodelling the eastern Mediterranean: Conflicting exploration of natural gas reserves

04-09-2020

Since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and destabilised the whole region through its illegal drilling and military interventions. Ankara has used military force and intimidation, including repeated violations of the territorial waters and airspaces of neighbouring countries. Ankara has also used bilateral ...

Since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and destabilised the whole region through its illegal drilling and military interventions. Ankara has used military force and intimidation, including repeated violations of the territorial waters and airspaces of neighbouring countries. Ankara has also used bilateral deals, such as its November 2019 memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), which purports to determine new maritime boundaries. The Turkey-Libya MoU effectively drew a dividing line between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean, threatening maritime security, natural gas exploration and new infrastructures such as the EastMed pipeline. Turkey's behaviour, beyond its geo-economic interests, reflects a more ambitious geopolitical 'neo-Ottoman' agenda intent on remodelling the whole region by spreading the country's influence from northern Iraq and Syria to Libya and leaving behind the Kemalist tradition of secularism and regional neutrality. Tensions in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean have not been conducive to good neighbourly relations. The international community has strongly condemned Turkey's behaviour. Taking into account Turkey's poor track record in upholding human rights and the rule of law, the European Union has suspended accession negotiations and all pre-accession funds under the planned new multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027. The European Parliament has condemned Turkey's illegal drilling activities as well as its military interventions in the region.

Workshop on "Bringing EU-Turkey Trade and Investment Relations Up to Date?"

19-05-2016

The case is made paper maintains that the EU-Turkey CU of 1995 covering industrial goods should be modernised and modified to take into account the various and growing criticisms of the original CU. Furthermore, economic integration between the EU and Turkey should be strengthened by signing a complementary deep integration regional trade agreement (RTA) between the EU and Turkey, covering agriculture, SPS measures, services, government procurement, investment, and dispute settlement. For Turkey, ...

The case is made paper maintains that the EU-Turkey CU of 1995 covering industrial goods should be modernised and modified to take into account the various and growing criticisms of the original CU. Furthermore, economic integration between the EU and Turkey should be strengthened by signing a complementary deep integration regional trade agreement (RTA) between the EU and Turkey, covering agriculture, SPS measures, services, government procurement, investment, and dispute settlement. For Turkey, the objective would be to achieve comprehensive liberalisation, while for the EU this is an ideal opportunity to harness the economic and political potential of deeper integration with Turkey, in line with its wider trade and investment policy.

External author

Kamala Dawar (University of Sussex, the UK) and Sübidey Togan (Center for International Economics, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey)

Future EU-Turkey relations

23-10-2018

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With ...

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With the constitutional referendum and the subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections, President Erdogan further reinforced his position at the helm of the institutional system and raised concerns among the EU and NATO about his commitment to Western institutions. Turkey deepened its relations with Russia, buying military equipment and coordinating with it on Syrian policies on the ground. At the same time, US-Turkish relations worsened due to the Syrian conflict and the imprisonment of a US pastor by Turkey, although he was subsequently released. Negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU have nevertheless continued, despite an increasingly lively debate in some Member States about whether or not they should be halted. Some have proposed striking an economic agreement with Turkey as an alternative to membership. Others believe the outcome of the negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU might also provide a possible model for Turkey. Despite the numerous hurdles before it, accession not only remains the ultimate objective of EU-Turkey relations, endorsed by both the European Council and by Turkey, but it also provides potential for reform and dialogue regarding common standards, not least in the area of civil liberties.

Turkey: How the Pre-Accession Funds Have Been Spent, Managed, Controlled and the Monitoring System?

23-05-2016

This study follows up on the European Court of Auditors Special Report 16/2009 ‘The European Commission's management of pre-accession assistance to Turkey’. The European Commission has undertaken actions addressing the recommendations of the report but it is unclear how effective these actions have been, or are likely to be, in addressing the underlying concerns expressed in the report. In particular, understanding of the effectiveness and impact of European Union funding to Turkey is still very ...

This study follows up on the European Court of Auditors Special Report 16/2009 ‘The European Commission's management of pre-accession assistance to Turkey’. The European Commission has undertaken actions addressing the recommendations of the report but it is unclear how effective these actions have been, or are likely to be, in addressing the underlying concerns expressed in the report. In particular, understanding of the effectiveness and impact of European Union funding to Turkey is still very limited.

External author

Roderick Ackermann, Roland Blomeyer, Elsa Perreau, Jan Smit and Jack Malan

EU-Turkey relations in light of the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis

09-03-2020

Approximately 3.6 million refugees have entered Turkey since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the highest number in the region. Despite on-going international and European Union financial and humanitarian support, this ever-increasing refugee presence has resulted in heightened social tensions in Turkey. In the 2019 local elections, the loss of the Istanbul mayoralty by the governing Justice and Development (AK) party was perceived as a major setback for the 'imperial presidency' ...

Approximately 3.6 million refugees have entered Turkey since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the highest number in the region. Despite on-going international and European Union financial and humanitarian support, this ever-increasing refugee presence has resulted in heightened social tensions in Turkey. In the 2019 local elections, the loss of the Istanbul mayoralty by the governing Justice and Development (AK) party was perceived as a major setback for the 'imperial presidency' of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Istanbul's new mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu (Republican People's Party, CHP), played a leading role in nurturing aversion for Syrian refugees, stating that Turkey was managing the refugees badly and that 'people are unhappy'. Some Turkish politicians also regard refugees as a security threat – a trend that has grown since September 2019 when the Turkish military began Operation Peace Spring in north-east Syria, with the aim of containing the Kurds and creating a 'safe zone' to which Syrian refugees could return. The Turkish military operation in Syria, as well as the Turkish incursion into Libya, and other geostrategic issues, such as gas drilling disputes with Cyprus, have led relations between the EU and Turkey, already tainted by the drop in democratic standards since the failed military coup in 2016, to deteriorate further. Repeated threats by Erdoğan that Turkey would 'open the gates' and let the refugees enter the EU materialised on 28 February 2020, when Turkey opened its borders with Greece, setting the scene for a new refugee crisis. A swift European response, with the presence of the presidents of the main EU institutions in Greece on 3 March 2020, demonstrated the unity and will to face this critical situation together. Past experience, in particular the 2015 refugee crisis, has however highlighted the weaknesses in the internal and external dimensions of the EU's migration policy. The current crisis is both a stress-test and an opportunity for the EU to clarify its own strategic position in order to develop a new consolidated geopolitical blueprint for the whole Mediterranean and Middle East that would not only tackle the ambition and behaviour of regional powers such as Turkey, but also place the EU on an equal footing with other global powers active in the region.

Turkey: Labour Market Integration and Social Inclusion of Refugees

15-09-2016

This Policy Department A note produced at request of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee provides a review of integration policies at the national level. It identifies the challenges and opportunities that both immigrants and local communities face. Various aspects of the Labour Market Integration and Social Inclusion of Refugees are elaborated by the presentation of legal framework and practices from Turkey. The note depicts that Turkey has taken significant steps on the regulations which ...

This Policy Department A note produced at request of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee provides a review of integration policies at the national level. It identifies the challenges and opportunities that both immigrants and local communities face. Various aspects of the Labour Market Integration and Social Inclusion of Refugees are elaborated by the presentation of legal framework and practices from Turkey. The note depicts that Turkey has taken significant steps on the regulations which aim to create an attractive economic environment and to facilitate the application process of work permissions for foreigners as part of integration policies. Furthermore, social integration policies are rather weak and started to develop since the recent immigration flow from Syria. Even though there have been improvements in the integration policies, policy makers should focus on the implementation of more stable and long term policies and practices.

External author

Ahmet İçduygu

Implementation of the EU trust funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Overview

16-03-2020

The EU trust funds (TFs) for external action and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey are innovative tools first introduced under the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2014-2020 period, as made possible by the 2013 Financial Regulation (FR) applicable to the EU budget. Their objective has been to facilitate a swifter and more flexible response to emerging crises and fast moving events, for which funds earmarked in advance had proved insufficient. The EU has set up four trust funds ...

The EU trust funds (TFs) for external action and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey are innovative tools first introduced under the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2014-2020 period, as made possible by the 2013 Financial Regulation (FR) applicable to the EU budget. Their objective has been to facilitate a swifter and more flexible response to emerging crises and fast moving events, for which funds earmarked in advance had proved insufficient. The EU has set up four trust funds since then, in addition to the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, which, despite some similarities with the trust funds, is a distinct coordination mechanism. The TFs' implementation is ongoing and the Commission reports to the European Parliament regularly on the state of play. Regular reports and evaluations have shown that the EU trust funds have had some positive results, and to some extent met their objectives. However, they have also raised questions. For instance, ad hoc instruments outside the EU budget fall short when it comes to democratic accountability: there is a general need for greater transparency and Parliament scrutiny. Moreover, there is a perceived risk that the TFs could be used to divert development aid funds towards other ends incompatible with official development assistance. While Parliament welcomed the introduction of the EU TFs, acknowledging their advantages, it has insisted that the setting up of instruments outside the EU budget should be the exception to the rule, mostly owing to the above-mentioned concerns. The aim should be to preserve the unity of the EU budget and the principles of accountability, transparency, effectiveness and sound budgetary management, and to safeguard Parliament's right to democratic scrutiny. As argued in a Cost of Non-Europe report, a better coordinated EU development aid budget, incorporating all external assistance, could prove more strategic, bringing efficiency gains, accountability and transparency. This briefing supplements an earlier EPRS briefing on EU trust funds, from November 2015, PE 572.797.

Tackling violence against women and domestic violence in Europe – The added value of the Istanbul Convention and remaining challenges

30-10-2020

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee. It aims to understand the implementation of the Convention, its added value, arguments against the ratification of the Convention, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on violence against women (VAW) and domestic violence (DV). The 27 EU Member States are included in the study, together with Turkey, which offers a comparator of the impact ...

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee. It aims to understand the implementation of the Convention, its added value, arguments against the ratification of the Convention, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on violence against women (VAW) and domestic violence (DV). The 27 EU Member States are included in the study, together with Turkey, which offers a comparator of the impact of the ratification of the Convention by a non-EU country.

External author

Nathalie MEURENS, Hayley D’SOUZA, Saredo MOHAMED, Nazia CHOWDHURY, Stelios CHARITAKIS, Kate, REGAN, ICF Prof. Dr Els LEYE, Ghent University/Consultant

Turkey-Armenia Relations

02-10-2013

The two protocols signed by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Zurich in October 2009 addressed the twin issues of establishing diplomatic relations and reopening the closed Armenian-Turkish border. They offered a strategic roadmap for each country to “normalise” relations as a first step toward the broader process of reconciliation. Since the signing of the protocols, however, the “normalisation” process has dramatically stalled, with official state-level engagement suspended. During ...

The two protocols signed by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Zurich in October 2009 addressed the twin issues of establishing diplomatic relations and reopening the closed Armenian-Turkish border. They offered a strategic roadmap for each country to “normalise” relations as a first step toward the broader process of reconciliation. Since the signing of the protocols, however, the “normalisation” process has dramatically stalled, with official state-level engagement suspended. During this period, despite several new opportunities for reengagement or reactivity, each side has retreated to their previously hard-line positions. The two briefing papers drafted respectively by a Turkish and an Armenian analyst assess the past efforts and the current state of play of Turkey-Armenia relations, suggest possible future scenarios and present several specific recommendations for action.

External author

Cengiz AKTAR (Hrant Dink Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey) and Richard GIRAGOSIAN (Regional Studies Center, Yerevan, Armenia)