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    EU, Turkey Can Move Forward if Ankara 'Proves It Seeking Tangible Relationship'

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    Modernization of the 21-year-old EU-Turkey Customs Union and Cyprus crisis settlement may reignite the suspended negotiations on Turkey’s membership of the European Union, Vice-Chair of Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee of the European Parliament Takis Hadjigeorgiou told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would break its ties with the European Union if Brussels did not open its new accession chapters for Ankara.

    "I do not think that the relationship of Turkey with the European Union and the West has reached its end. One aspect of that relationship is the updating/modernising of the Customs Union to reflect current EU-Turkey trade relations, which would bring substantial economic benefits for both partners … I believe that one issue, which can pave again the accession procedure, is the resolution of the Cyprus problem," Hadjigeorgiou said.

    Turkey needs to demonstrate its strong willingness to build substantive and reliable relations with the European Union in order to mend the shattered bilateral ties, Hadjigeorgiou stressed.

    "The European Union and Turkey can find a way forward, if Turkey proves in actions and in an honest way that it is indeed seeking a tangible relationship with the European Union," Hadjigeorgiou added.

    Hadjigeorgiou also speculated that the migrant agreement between Turkey and the European Union would also remain in force despite the numerous statements made by Erdogan since August 2016 in which he said that Turkey would withdraw from the deal if Brussels failed to fulfill its obligations.

    Turkey's decades-long aspiration to become a EU member has been met with numerous political, social, and economic obstacles. In November 2016, members of the European Parliament voted in favor of freezing EU accession talks with Turkey due to the country's crackdown on opposition journalists, as well as public servants and judges, in the wake of the July coup attempt, despite the fact that only several months before Brussels and Ankara agreed on a migrant deal, under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants that had arrived to the European Union through the state’s territory in exchange for major concessions on membership and visas.

    The EU-Turkish relations are also aggravated by the ongoing Cyprus dispute. Since 1974, the island nation has been divided, with Turkey occupying its northern half and later proclaiming the area as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Reaching agreement on Cyprus' reunification is one of the conditions to accelerate the EU-Turkey accession talks.

    Brussels and Ankara are also linked by an outdated Customs Union agreement, which came into force on December 31, 1995. The current terms of this deal do not include such important economic areas as agriculture, services and public procurement. A 2014 World Bank report recognized that while this trade arrangement benefited both the European Union and Turkey greatly, it should be modernized to include the currently missing sectors.

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    European Union, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, North Cyprus, Cyprus, Turkey
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