EU to hold summit on relations with Turkey

EU leaders will discuss relations with Turkey in a two-day summit that begins today. The meeting will mark a rare

Eu Turkey summit

Photo: EU Consilium

EU leaders will discuss relations with Turkey in a two-day summit that begins today.

The meeting will mark a rare instance in which the two troubled partners will agree to strengthen cooperation on trade and the refugee crisis. While the EU-Turkey relationship has recently seen many challenges, the EU’s desire to reach a new settlement with Turkey over the migrant crisis will trump other priorities.

Despite the lingering threat of further sanctions, Brussels is willing to provide Ankara with fresh funds to support the near four million refugees it hosts and to modernise a customs union allowing for increased bilateral trade. At the core of the EU’s current softening towards Turkey is fear that Ankara could unleash a wave of Syrian refugees to Europe.

Even as tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean are cooling down, these developments come amidst worsening domestic tensions. Ankara recently filed a case to close a key opposition party and withdrew from an international treaty protecting women against violence, sparking international condemnation.

Expect the prospect of preserving the 2016 migrant deal to delay any major EU-Turkey confrontation in the short- to medium-term, yet the incompatibility between the interests of the current Turkish leadership and Brussels will resurface again in the coming months.

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