EU-Turkey Tensions Resurface Over NATO Summit

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(EurActiv) — Turkey has indicated its intention to veto the EU’s participation in the upcoming NATO summit in an apparent sign of growing disenchantment with the Union before the rotating EU presidency is taken up by Cyprus, a country that Turkey refuses to recognise.

According to the Turkish daily Zaman, Ankara said it would block EU participation at the summit unless the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is also allowed in the room. NATO leaders are due to meet in Chicago 20-21 May.

The stand-off appears as an embarrassment for the alliance because European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso have already received invitations to attend the opening dinner, reports say.

The EU as an entity needs an invitation to attend NATO events. Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has the power to veto the EU’s participation.

The EU has acquired new political weight with the Lisbon Treaty. It is also participating in efforts for the reconstruction and democratisation of Afghanistan, and its role is expected to grow after NATO’s security operation ends in 2014.

The Turkish daily Hürriyet quoted an unnamed Turkish official saying that Ankara did not name the OIC as a condition for the EU’s participation.

But the source seemed to confirm that Ankara would oppose an EU participation in Chicago.

“NATO should not waste time trying to invite more representatives from outside organisations,” the source was quoted as saying. The source also praised the OIC, a bloc of 57 countries, for helping NATO in Libya “to no lesser extent than the EU”.

Turkey claims that until the Republic of Cyprus, which it doesn’t recognise (see background), became an EU member in 2004, its NATO relations had been going quite well. Ankara has since then been preventing NATO from exchanging information with the EU on the grounds that Cyprus, a non-aligned country, is not a member of the Partnership for Peace – a NATO programme seen as stepping stone to alliance membership.

Cyprus is to assume the six-month rotating EU presidency on July. Turkey has warned it would freeze relations with the Union during this period, and that it would consider annexing northern Cyprus, which is technically EU territory.

Turkey reportedly has also blocked Israel’s participation at the Chicago summit, highlighting its determination to prevent its new foe from cooperating with the alliance following the Israeli attack in May 2010 on a flotilla carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish civilians were killed in the attack.

Turkey insists that NATO-Israel relations cannot be restored until Turkish-Israeli relations are normalised.

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2 thoughts on “EU-Turkey Tensions Resurface Over NATO Summit”

  1. Turkey just can’t get the message. All she is doing is digging bigger hole for herself. Turkey the delinquent is not going to dictate the terms to the 27 nation members of the EU. The EU has acquired new political weight with the Lisbon Treaty and it only a matter of time before the EU decides that enough is enough and that it is time to say goodbye to Turkey as far as NATO is concerned.

    The EU doesn’t need to put up with the antics of Turkey. The solution is quite simple and that is for the EU countries to form the European Union Treaty Organisation minus Turkey and her American backer.

    All EU member forces would naturally be transferred to EUTO. Once that is done if Turkey and America want to remain with NATO that is fine, let them, so be it.

    Turkey can’t be allowed to continue being the bully boy as far as EU member Cyprus is concerned.

  2. The alliance is already an ending story. The Americans have focussed their interest in the Pacific.

    The European Union has it’s own defense policy. It actually has it’s own defense agency – which as far as I know is even open for non-EU members – and seems to integrate individual national armed forces even tighter than NATO already does. It even goes as far as member state defense procurement and defense industry markets.

    NATO carries a burden: it’s history. It is opposed by the Russians, Serbians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Finns, Swiss, Austrians, Irish and even it’s own member states. The EU and it’s member states ought to abandon the NATO and come up with something that is focussed on modern times with it’s own (financial) problems.

    From there on – Turkey (and Ukraine and perhaps even Russia) should work it’s way to Europe. Turkey expects to go all-in, but they have to solve their problems first.

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