By Angelos Athanasopoulos
A final draft of the 24-25 June European Council conclusions that are about to be discussed by the 27 leaders features guarded language regarding Turkey that has satisfied the Greek side.
In a related excerpt made available to To Vima, the leaders welcome the de-escalation that has been noted in the Eastern Mediterranean over the last months and stress that it must be maintained.
The terminology regarding a gradual, proportional, and reversible EU-Turkey cooperation, as articulated at the March EU summit and the report issued by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, is kept intact, and the current situation as regards efforts to solve the Cyprus problem has cast a heavy shadow.
The critical issue in the summit conclusions as regards Turkey is the migration issue and specifically a hike in funding, in line with the seminal March, 2016, EU-Turkey Statement on the issue.
The EU leaders call upon the Commission without delay to table proposals to continue funding for Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and other areas in the region.
It should be noted that the Commission has drafted a 5.7bn euro 2022-2024 funding package for the aforementioned countries.
Of that amount, 3.5bn euros have been earmarked for Turkey.
The EU summit conclusions also condemn any effort by third countries to exploit migrants to satisfy political objectives, a thinly veiled reference to Turkey and its efforts in March, 2020, to push thousands of migrants onto Greek territory at the Evros border region.
Despite the pressures and best efforts of Berlin it appears that strong obstacles remain as regards a potential dramatically positive EU offer to Ankara as regards updating the Customs Union.
The European Council’s draft notes the launch of work at the technical level with the aim of shaping a mandate for the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union, even as it cites the need to manage current difficulties in the implementation of the Customs Union, ensuring its effective implementation in all member-states (a clear reference to the Republic of Cyprus).
This mandate can be adopted by the Council subject to further guidance from the European Council. It should be noted that Berlin wants the mandate to take effect immediately.