EU: Turkey 'must soften tone to avoid isolation'

EU: Turkey 'must soften tone to avoid isolation'

"The only real friend you have is Azerbaijan," European Parliament Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor has told the country's leaders. (Photo: AFP)

ISTANBUL - Turkey has become internationally isolated and must dial down its rhetoric if it wants to win key concessions from the European Union, a top European official said Wednesday in Istanbul.

Nacho Sanchez Amor, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, said Ankara's abrasive talk on foreign affairs was one of the main impediments to improving relations with Brussels.

Turkey is seeking to simplify European visa access for its citizens and to update a 1995 customs agreement with the bloc that could help boost exports.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell last week recommended offering Turkey both in return for a series of concessions.

These included Turkey clamping down on Russian sanctions evasion and progress on the issue of the divided island of Cyprus.

Sanchez Amor added another condition on the last day of a fact-finding mission to Turkey that included meetings with opposition groups.

"To refrain from using an aggressive tone, a threatening tone, is free and easy," he told reporters in Istanbul.

"You are completely isolated. The only real friend you have is Azerbaijan," Sanchez Amor said.

Turkey has been an official candidate to join the European Union since 1999.

But the process has been effectively frozen since 2018 because of European concerns about Turkey's human rights record and adventurous foreign policy.

'Spoiled child'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be making a rare visit to Greece on Thursday aimed at warming ties between the two historic foes.

But he bashed the West repeatedly during his May re-election campaign and used a closely-watched visit to Germany last month to condemn Berlin's support for Israel in its war with Hamas.

Erdogan redoubled those attacks in comments to reporters on board his return from petrodollar-rich Qatar, one of Turkey's closest and most important allies in the Middle East.

"If it were not for the support of all Western countries, especially the United States, for Israel, we would not be facing such a situation in our region now," Erdogan said

"These countries' unlimited support — both in cash, weapons, ammunition and equipment — has turned Israel into the spoiled child of the West."

Sanchez Amor said he understood that such rhetoric played well with the Turkish public.

"I know that many decisions of Turkey's foreign policy have a domestic approach," he said.

"To be a good cooperative neighbour or to be a member, there are different paths and conditions," he said.

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