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EU eyes ‘strategic’ progress in Türkiye relations

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European Union leaders have called on the bloc’s foreign policy chief to draft a “strategic and forward-looking” report on Türkiye-EU relations, a statement from the bloc said.

The 27 EU heads of state and government, who attended a two-day summit in Brussels, invited Josep Borrell and the European Commission to submit a report “on the state of play of EU-Türkiye relations” in the light of the recent general and presidential elections in Türkiye.

The document must build “on the instruments and options identified by the European Council, and proceed in a strategic and forward-looking manner,” as per the summit’s conclusion.

The EU leaders also called for a “speedy resumption of negotiations” under the U.N. framework for finding a “comprehensive settlement for the Cyprus issue.”

Their document further referred to the verification of decisions made at EU summits held in March and June 2021 regarding Türkiye, where EU leaders had stated their readiness to gradually and proportionally develop cooperation with Ankara and start high-level dialogue on topics of mutual interest such as migration, healthcare, climate, war on terror and regional issues.

They had asked for commencing technical works to bolster relations with Türkiye on managing migration and authorization to update the Customs Union agreement.

The Cyprus issue is an ongoing dispute between the Greek Cypriot administration in the south and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) over sovereign rights.

The TRNC entirely broke away from the south and declared independence in 1983 after a coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island led to Türkiye’s military intervention, dubbed Cyprus Peace Operation, as a power guarantor to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.

An international embargo against Turkish Cyprus is currently in place in several areas that allow access to international communications, postal services and transport only through Türkiye.

Turkish Cyprus has been resolute in demanding a two-state solution that would ensure international recognition and equal sovereignty and status, something the Greek Cypriots reject.

The island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years. U.N.-backed reunification talks have been in limbo since the last round collapsed at Crans-Montana, Switzerland, in July 2017 between guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the U.K.

The Greek Cypriot administration joined the European Union in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted a U.N. plan to end the longstanding dispute.

Today, the Turkish side supports a solution based on the equal sovereignty of the two states on the island. On the other hand, the Greek side wants a federal solution based on Greek hegemony.

The crisis also looms over Türkiye’s accession to the EU, which has been essentially frozen due to political roadblocks by certain EU members, including Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, for reasons unrelated to membership criteria, according to Ankara.

Turkish officials argue that the EU can never live up to its potential on the world stage without Turkish membership in the bloc.

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