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Borrell: Time is not our friend in the Cyprus settlement talks and Greece – Turkey dialog

The exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey and the negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus issue “must reach a satisfactory conclusion and cannot go on endlessly – time is not our friend in this case”, warns EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, in a book on the diplomatic situation in the EU and the events of 2020, titled European Foreign Policy in Times of COVID19″.

The High Representative refers in great detail on pages 123 to 128 of the publication to what happened with Turkey in 2020 and describes in detail the framework of decisions until the December Summit.

In particular, the High Representative states the following about the future of relations with Turkey:

“There is a high probability that, if we continue in this downward spiral, the EU will have to adopt strong measures, to convince Turkey that it is serious and determined to ensure respect for our interests. I will report on this to European leaders in March 2021.
A strong cooperative relationship with Turkey would constitute a major contribution to European stability. Likewise, it will be difficult for Turkey to find a better partner than the EU.

As I said, a strong cooperative relationship with Turkey would constitute a major contribution to European stability. Likewise, it will be difficult for Turkey to find a better partner than the EU. Our economies are tied, the EU is by far Turkey’s number one import and export partner, as well as a source of investments. EU goods exports to Turkey in 2019 stood at €68 billion, while imports from Turkey were €70 billion, and so are our societies, with many citizens living, working and travelling across our borders.

We have a chance still to redirect our relations. The EU extends an open hand to Turkey hoping it will seize it, and the agenda presented by EU leaders is clear. I am ready, working together with the Commission and Member States, to discuss our proposals for a positive agenda with Turkey and explore ways of bringing our relations forward. This could also include enhancing regional cooperation through an eastern Mediterranean conference. But for all this to happen, actions that may be considered aggressive or contrary to EU interests have to stop.

We need to ensure the renewal of dialogue with Greece and the relaunch of the Cyprus settlement talks, on the understanding that they too must reach a satisfactory conclusion and cannot go on endlessly. Time is not our friend in this case. And yes, we must have a strong and frank dialogue on the regional conflicts and develop a greater common understanding of how to address them in a manner that will respect mutual interests.

Some may think that I am a dreamer and that this agenda simply cannot materialise. It will certainly not happen unless we try. Beyond clear steps from Turkey and a change in its negative actions and rhetoric of the last months, we need to find a way to get back to honest and effective dialogues and efforts, and strong engagement and commitment from all sides, including from the most- affected EU Member States. We need to bring back the energy in our talks with each other, not about each other.

Frankly speaking, we can either move towards a mutually beneficial agenda or suffer the consequences of our reciprocal misunderstandings. I have no hesitation regarding my own choice.”

CNA

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