Europe does not regard Turkey as a reliable partner and guarantor of security, while Ankara is similarly dubious about the EU, political scientist Sezgin Mercan told Sputnik Turkey, commenting on the upcoming March 26 Turkey-EU summit in Varna.
"This summit is important in terms of maintaining open diplomatic channels between the parties," Mercan said. "However, it seems that under the current circumstances, tensions will continue to exist between Turkey and the EU. Yet another important point is the parties' conservative policies, which lead to the increase in confrontation… What we are witnessing is the growth of national self-awareness. Meanwhile, Turkey has put the idea of EU membership on the back burner, prioritizing its own national interests. This process has prompted growing discord between Brussels and Ankara."
According to the Turkish political scientist, a number of serious problems prevent the parties from further rapprochement; one of them is Ankara's Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria, which was kick-started on January 20, 2018.
In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that that the Turkish Armed Forces will continue the operation until its objectives are fulfilled.
"Don't get your hopes up. We will only leave Afrin once our work is done," Erdogan stated in a March 15 speech in Ankara.
Mercan slammed the decision of the European Parliament (EP) on the Turkish withdrawal from Afrin. The political scientist pointed out that Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch to ensure the security of both Turkey and Europe.
He stressed that the EU has designated the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization only on paper, adding that the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara regards as a PKK affiliate, "operates freely in Europe."
"Europe and Turkey cannot reach a compromise, not only on the PYD issue and Syria, but also on many other points related to foreign policy," Mercan highlighted.
Can Baydarol, vice president of the EU and Globalization Studies Association, echoed Mercan, stressing that the resolution adopted by the European Parliament is not legally-binding.
"Not only the EP decision on Afrin, but many other decisions made earlier by this structure had been categorically rejected by Turkey," Baydarol highlighted. "Ankara's statement that Turkey will remain in Afrin until all the tasks within the framework of the operation are fulfilled indicates that Ankara does not intend to take the EP decision into account."
According to Baydarol, the Turkish military campaign in northern Syria will obviously be one of the topics of the Turkey-EU summit. At the same time, he expressed doubts that the EP resolution could seriously affect the results of the meeting.
The scholar highlighted that regardless of the EP's tough rhetoric towards Ankara, Brussels "doesn't want to lose Turkey."
"Recently, [the EU] have witnessed a close rapprochement between Turkey and Russia, which prompts serious concerns on the Western front," Baydarol said. "Therefore, I believe that during this summit the EU will demonstrate a moderate approach towards Turkey."
The first tranche was transferred in 2016, comprising "€1 billion ($1.22 billion) from the EU budget and €2 billion ($2.45 billion) from member states' contributions."
Furthermore, it is possible that the issue of visa facilitation will also be included in the summit's agenda, Baydarol stressed.
On March 26, President Erdogan is due to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Bulgaria's Black Sea seaside resort of Varna. Previously, a similar summit took place in Brussels in May 2017.
The views and opinions expressed by Sezgin Mercan, Can Baydarol are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.