EU's asymmetrical ties with Turkey harm both sides, report says


A report prepared by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) stresses that European Union member states should put an end to their habit of carrying out asymmetrical relationships with Turkey to stabilize bilateral ties.

The analysis, "Rationalizing the Turkey-EU relations," laid out several points that could help the two sides put their marred ties back on track. "It creates a tremendous problem in terms of relations and contradicts reciprocity, the very old principle of international relations where the EU does not respect Turkey's sovereignty rights and tries to build an asymmetrical relationship," the report claimed. Stressing that this approach harms bilateral ties and overshadows the positive aspects of relations, the report says equalizing relations would help to a great extent during times of crises. "The two actors should not hesitate to establish ties that promote projects that would increase interdependence and contribute to rational engagement." Another point underlined by the analysis is the lack of cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Criticizing the EU for not providing enough in this regard, the report says: "Fighting terrorism can lead to huge losses and cost if the parties can not cooperate and reflect common interests." "Despite its support in the issue of Daesh, the fact that the European states don't distance themselves from organizations like the PKK and FETÖ [the Gülenist Terror Group] creates widespread indignation in the Turkish public," the report added.

The threat of FETÖ was also emphasized in the analysis. It contended that suspects involved in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey using Europe as a safe haven may create even more problems for future relations and argued that EU member states should revise their policies against FETÖ to take the necessary measures in this regard to prevent further damage to the bilateral ties.

FETÖ orchestrated multiple coup attempts in Turkey, and its members face terrorism charges. The group runs a global network of schools and companies spanning from the U.S. to Asia. Turkey renewed its efforts to extradite FETÖ suspects from abroad following last year's coup attempt. Turkey has repeatedly accused EU states of harboring FETÖ-linked suspects after last year's July 15 coup attempt, in addition to decades of ongoing European support or inaction regarding members, supporters and sympathizers of the PKK amid rising clashes and terror attacks starting in mid-2015. The report also suggested that EU member states' own problems with Turkey should not affect Brussels' ties with Ankara. "The two actors must ensure the institutionalization and rationalization of relations. The problems being faced by Turkey with Germany or those between Turkey and Austria should not affect Ankara-Brussels relations." Turkey and Germany have had various crises over the course of the last two years due to a variety of issues, including FETÖ, the PKK and German citizens imprisoned in Turkey. Ankara has criticized Berlin for condoning PKK activities and harboring terrorists who partook in last year's failed coup attempt, while Germany criticizes Turkey on issues of press freedom and human rights. Ankara has voiced dismay regarding what officials say is a negative attitude toward it.

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