The Arab Awakening made foreign policy co-operation with Turkey more urgent. But co-operation on issues such as Syria and Iran was limited by the continued rift between Israel and Turkey.
The EU’s objective is to co-ordinate foreign policy with Turkey in parallel to the accession negotiations. There is scope for co-operation between the EU and Turkey in the Western Balkans and the Arab Awakening also provided a basis for co-operation in assisting democratisation across the Middle East and North Africa. But although influential member states such as France, Germany and the UK support working alongside Turkey in the region, others such as Cyprus and Greece are obstructive. In 2011, the EEAS launched regular meetings with the foreign ministry in Ankara. The initiative was supported both by member states such as Sweden and the UK that support Turkish accession and those such as France and Germany that are opposed, but substantive results are yet to follow.
Ankara was initially reluctant to support military intervention in Libya but later changed its position and supported limited intervention through NATO. On Syria, Cyprus opposed referencing Turkey’s contribution in a European Council conclusion as well as bringing in Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to the Foreign Affairs Council in December (but the invite is likely to be issued in early 2012). In Bosnia, Angela Merkel’s mediating initiative in February (see component 42) was seen as a response to Davutoğlu’s activism. But Ankara’s about-face on Syria in August, denunciation of the regime’s clampdown of protests and support for the opposition and sanctions led to a convergence with the EU.
The EU and Turkey also moved closer on Iran. Turkey hosted P+1 talks with Iran in January that were inconclusive but bolstered co-operation with France, Germany and the UK, and with Catherine Ashton. In September, Turkey agreed to host a radar unit as part of the NATO missile defence shield. However, the downgrade of diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey as well as the diplomatic row between Paris and Ankara over the Armenian genocide inhibits collaboration.