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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Füle on Turkey-EU relations, visa waivers etc [video]

From's youtube channel:
European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle on Wednesday [May 18] told European business leaders that Turkey is a key contributor to the Euroepan Union's global economic power.
You'll find the video below. It contains nothing revolutionary except that Füle remains surprisingly upbeat about EU-Turkey relations in spite of the current impasse. He keeps the pressure up, asking for a "long awaited revitalization" of Turkey's political reform process. And he also attempts to allay Turkish irritation on the failure to extend visa-free travel to Turks throughout the EU. He reaffirms that the Justice and Home Affairs Council in February of this year "has opened a clear perspective" on the visa issue. Here, I assume that he is referring to the conclusions from February 24-25, according to which said council
invites the Commission, the Member States and Turkey to intensify their cooperation on visa issues, ensuring harmonised implementation of practical improvements for Turkish visa applicants within the framework of the EU Visa Code and asks the Commission to regularly report to the Council in this respect
But this is hardly revolutionary. It basically amounts to a "let's work harder." And the Cypriot delegation's addendum to this conclusion doesn't make things better:
The joint declaration on the cooperation in the area of visa policy, appears to establish a direct link between the readmission agreement and a visa dialogue. Our understanding is that the implementation in good faith of the readmission agreement is a sine qua non condition for the pursuit of such dialogue. Furthermore it has to be clear that the readmission agreement and the joint declaration do not commit the EU in a dialogue aiming towards a visa facilitation or liberalization.
Here, the Cypriot delegation denies the existence of any link between the readmission agreement (according to which Turkey would accept back into Turkey all migrants who enter the EU "illegally" through Turkey and then ensure their "repatriation" to their country of origin), which the EU wants Turkey to implement, and the visa-waiver that Turkey wants the EU to implement. [Correction: To be accurate, the statement doesn't deny the link, it just makes implementation of the readmission agreement a precondition for "dialogue" on the visa waiver matter.] In contrast to the Cypriot delegation, Turkish politicians have been making the link between these two items explicitly, in effect calling for a quid-pro-quo mutual implementation of both. In the words of one Turkish official:
Nothing is happening on the visa question and they want us to sign the re-admission agreement. Well sorry that is not going to happen.
A final reflection on Füle's remarks is that his wording appears deliberate. It seems to me at least that his choice of words are meant to appease those actors in the EU who are aiming for a "privileged partnership" of one form or another. "Looking to the future," he argues, "our common challenge is to deepen European Union-Turkey integration even further. The accession negotiations are the best tool to do this." Perhaps I am reading into this, but such a statement - stopping short of reaffirming accession as the goal - appear to be so designed as to not provoke the "partnership" crowd. Anyway, you can judge for yourself:

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