Monday 6 February 2023
Home European Commission EU punishes Turkey, a three-quarters less financial support

EU punishes Turkey, a three-quarters less financial support

The European Union will drastically reduce financial support to Turkey. This is apparent from a letter from Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU. The financial support for the reception of refugees, the so-called Turkey deal, remains fully intact. Borrell cited the gas conflict in the Mediterranean and the Ankara military offensive in Syria as reasons.

Turkey has been a 'future' EU member for decades, but the accession negotiations are completely stuck. All candidate countries receive financial support from Brussels to prepare their state organization for European rules and criteria. Since the coming to power of the Islamist AK party and President Erdogan, Turkey has increasingly opted for a course focused on the Middle East and its own Turkish nationality.

In recent years, Turkey and the EU have been increasingly opposed to each other. For years the European sympathy for the Kurds has been causing tensions with Ankara, which is showing a lot of military power against Kurdish groups, not only in southeastern Turkey but sometimes also in northern Iraq.

In the civil war in Syria, Turkey has recently become an ally of pro-Assad groups, together with the Russians, while the EU countries and NATO support opponents of the Syrian president, including Kurdish fighters. Turkey also threatens to go its own way in the conflict in Libya.

Partly due to the anti-European attitude of President Erdogan, more and more voices were raised in the European Union to completely stop the faltering accession talks with Turkey. Some European politicians and some EU countries found this too far-reaching, after which the discussions were more or less stopped. The payments, which were originally expected to amount to € 3.5 billion in the years 2014 to 2020, were accordingly controversial.

Opponents of a definitive break with Ankara argue that EU subsidies for 'good' projects that benefit the local Turkish population would also be abolished in that case. That is why Borrell is now not discontinuing all support, but partly maintaining it.

The EU has decided to reduce the so-called pre-accession aid by three quarters. Turkey will only receive € 168 million this year from the so-called IPA pre-accession program EU. EUR 150 million continues to go to projects for strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and EUR 18 million to go to a rural development program.

Borrell said, according to German and Kurdish sources, that the EU had previously reduced aid by a total of 1.2 billion euros since 2017. The foreign policy commissioner justified the new sanctions with the unauthorized gas drilling of Turkey off the coast of EU member Cyprus and with the military operation of Turkey in northeastern Syria. Borrell emphasized, however, that EU aid remains relevant because of the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.

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