The European Union should hold a summit with candidate Turkey to set out a new strategy for Ankara’s bid to join the bloc as a full member, Greece’s Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas has said.
“I think this is really the time to have a frank discussion with all the member states and also with Turkey. We have to make our minds up again within the European Union, what our expectations are concerning Turkey,” he said at a seminar at the European Policy Center in Brussels on Monday.
Turkey opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2005 but the talks are proceeding very slowly due to disputes over Cyprus and growing public opposition to Turkey’s EU membership in several EU countries, including heavyweights Germany and France. “Only through an open exchange of views and the sincerity can we put things back into track. The situation we are facing right now will lead us to a deadlock which will not be beneficial neither for the European Union nor for Turkey,” Droutsas said, referring to the public skepticism regarding Turkish accession in Europe. “The time has come again for open and sincere words, and my personal view is that the best way is to renew commitments that we have already expressed in the past.”
But Droutsas also said the Cyprus problem could continue to block Turkey’s EU path. “Turkey cannot become a member of the EU as long as there are occupation forces on the island,” he said.
Droutsas also said that Greece and Turkey are trying to deepen cooperation in areas where there are shared interests hoping that this would create the atmosphere to resolve deeper disputes. “This is the way we are going and this is the way we are trying”. But he added: “We have things that are more than worrying. … We have a country, Turkey, that is aspiring to become an EU member state. This candidate is threatening an EU member state with the casus belli, in the case that this member state will make use of a right it has according to International Law, the Treaty of the Sea. … We have to see this very clearly. This is not compatible with European Union values.”