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‘EU Should Not Set Conditions to Update Customs Union with Türkiye’

The European Union should not set any conditions to modernize the customs union with Türkiye, which dates back to 1995, the country’s ambassador to the bloc, Faruk Kaymakcı said on Monday.

At a preparatory meeting in Brussels for the 80th Türkiye-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting, set for Dec. 19-20 in the Turkish capital Ankara, Kaymakcı commented on a new report on Turkish-EU political, economic and trade relations presented last week by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi.

The report contains important steps, but they do not give enough room for Turkish-EU relations to grow in important areas, according to Kaymakcı.

He stressed the importance of treating Türkiye as an equal candidate country, adding that there should be no conditions to starting negotiations on updating the 1995 EU-Türkiye Customs Union deal.

The modernization of the 1990s trade deal, which is limited to industrial goods and processed agricultural products, was often on the agenda in recent periods with other officials recently urging “swift action” to expand it to include vital areas such as services and e-commerce.

Kaymakcı also pointed to the need to facilitate issuing visas for Turkish nationals until visa liberalization is granted, as pledged under a 2016 deal on migrants.

Deeper cooperation in the fight against terrorism would also strengthen trust between the two sides, he said, adding that joint projects should be implemented for Syrian refugees to return home in a safe, voluntary and dignified way, a step long sought by Türkiye, which hosts over 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Kaymakcı also pointed to Türkiye’s key role in the war in Ukraine waged by Russia and in solving issues in the Middle East.

The fact that NATO-EU relations are not at a desired level due to the Cyprus issue undermines Europe’s deterrence, one of the reasons for the war waged by Russia in Ukraine, he said.

Institutions such as the EU Parliament should not give fertile ground for supporting terrorist groups, and the lack of measures against terrorism within the EU causes a lack of trust in relations, Kaymakcı also said.

Türkiye has the longest history with the union and the longest negotiation process. An association agreement was signed in 1964, which is usually regarded as a first step to eventually becoming a candidate. Applying for official candidacy in 1987, Türkiye had to wait until 1999 to be granted the status of a candidate country. For the start of the negotiations, however, Türkiye had to wait for another six years, until 2005, a uniquely long process compared with other candidates.

Source: Daily Sabah