UK-Turkey relations and Turkey's regional role - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

8 EU-Turkey partnership?

201.  A number of our witnesses said that, given the stalemate in the accession talks and the likely length of Turkey's accession process, the EU needed to find a new mode of engaging Turkey—as a partner, on key issues of mutual interest such as energy security or the response to the 'Arab Spring'.[442] A growing number of think-tank specialists have recently made proposals to this effect.[443] For its part, the FCO said that it supported "intensifying the EU's existing dialogue with Turkey on foreign policy issues of mutual interest".[444] Katinka Barysch told us—as did the High Representative herself[445]—that EU High Representative Ashton had close working relations with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoðlu, but that there was no institutionalised mechanism for EU-Turkey foreign policy consultations or co-operation.[446]

202.  Ms Barysch stressed that engaging with a candidate state as a partner would represent a significant and potentially difficult shift for the EU from its normal relationship with such a country.[447] However, Dr Aybet urged the EU not to shy away from institutional innovation in the case of its relations with Turkey.[448]

203.  The EU's main risk in seeking to develop more of a partnership relationship with Turkey would be being seen to be backing away from the accession track. Turkey has previously been reluctant about partnership-type ideas for this reason.[449]

204.  Several of our witnesses said that the strengthened bilateral relationship which the UK Government was seeking to develop with Turkey already represented an accommodation with a stalemated accession process and was the sort of initiative which the EU should also pursue.[450]

  1. We recommend that the Government should encourage EU personnel and institutions, including High Representative Ashton, to explore with Turkey ways of developing a partnership outside—but not prejudicial to—its EU accession process, which we continue to regard as having key strategic value.

442   Qq 86, 89 [Ms Barysch], Ev 86 [Dr Bechev] Back

443   Katinka Barysch, "Can Turkey combine EU accession and regional leadership?", Centre for European Reform Policy Brief, January 2010; Heather Grabbe and Sinan Ulgen, "The way forward for Turkey and the EU: A strategic dialogue on foreign policy", Carnegie Endowment, December 2010; Philip Hanson, "On Europe's Fringes: Russia, Turkey and the European Union", Chatham House Briefing Paper July 2011; Katinka Barysch, "Why the EU and Turkey Need to Coordinate Their Foreign Policies", Carnegie Endowment, 31 August 2011 Back

444   Ev 55 Back

445   Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 21 November 2011, HC (2010-12) 1642-i, Q 49 Back

446   Q 101; see also Katinka Barysch, "Is Turkey our partner now?", Centre for European Reform, 28 November 2011. Back

447   Qq 89, 101 Back

448   Q 132 Back

449   Q 89 [Ms Barysch] Back

450   Ev 65 [Dr Aybet], 113 [Mr Hakura] Back

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Prepared 4 April 2012