In a classic “carrot and stick” approach, EU leadership hopes to rebuild cooperation with Turkey

Brussels, April 5 2021:European council president, Charles Michel and European commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen head to Turkey to outline a roadmap for regional cooperation between the bloc and Turkey and the resulting possible gains for Turkey.

The recent drop in tensions between Turkey and the bloc has opened the possibility of key economic and diplomatic gains for Ankara, including more funding for Turkey’s hosting of millions of Syrian refugees. But these come only if Erdogan agrees to stick to the terms presented by the EU while exploiting the gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

The visit isn’t meant for negotiating terms, but will in fact be used to present a framework by the EU to Turkey by “constructively” de-escalating.

Encouraged by conciliatory moves from Ankara over the past few months, including the resumption of talks with Greece over a disputed maritime border and steps to restart UN peace efforts for divided EU member state Cyprus, the EU hopes the visit will lead to some gains.

This “carrot-and-stick” approach from Brussels entails the possibility of modernising a customs union, liberalising visa rules, more money for Syrian refugees and a resumption of dialogue on topics from security to health. But any steps would be “phased, proportionate and reversible”, and if Ankara backtracks then the EU has warned it could slap painful sanctions on the country.

“If Erdogan does not show himself to be cooperative then everything will be blocked,” a statement from the bloc read.

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