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Foreign Ministers of the European Union have criticized Turkey for energy exploration in disputed Mediterranean waters and for Ankara’s role in the Libyan conflict. The envoys are meeting in Brussels, for the first time since February. They’re also expected to discuss issues relating to the coronavirus crisis, Latin America and the Caribbean. For more on this Su Yi invited Adjunct Professor Ivo Ganchev (Beijing Union University) to join him on The Beijing Hour. You can listen to the full episode of the show from Sep 14, 2020 on the China Plus website and to the interview excerpt from the Listen section of this website. A full transcript of the excerpt is also available below.
Su Yi: First of all, what are the most depressing and strategic issues that top diplomats from EU member states need to address this time of face to face in Brussels?
Ivo Ganchev: Well, the main issue here is the coordination of the MFF for the multinational financial framework, which is approved once every seven years, and it essentially coordinates the EU budget at the regional level for the near future. Now this year the MFF has expanded considerably for a number of reasons. So, first, due to the covid 19 pandemic the EU economy is projected to contract at about seven to 8% in 2020, and rebound by about six in 2021, but even so this is a big blow to the prosperity of the EU, so to mitigate this, the MFF this year is revamped so although the base of the new EU budget remains that around 1.1 trillion euros, we expect an additional 700 and 50 billion to be approved, and that makes a total of one point 85 trillion Euros, which should be financed through the EU issuing bonds over the next three years or so, and then this money will be directed to you priorities through grants and loans so the main issue that he is facing is rebuilding its economy seeking recovery and also promoting new sources of economic growth. And another issue in recent years that we saw is Brexit and other movements that undermine the unity of the EU, so it needs to focus on promoting its internal unity as well.
Su Yi: And we’ve also heard a top on the global media agenda is the relations between the EU and Turkey. Why has this pair of relations being identified as a major issue?
Ivo Ganchev: Well, I think there are two questions here. Why Turkey, and why now, so why is turkey a special case so first it’s a longtime NATO member since 1952, but it’s not in the EU, and that’s been a discrepancy for decades. Second, it’s demonstrated willingness to seek EU membership but its policies don’t really align with the way things are done in the EU. Now, third as a non EU state turkey can and does have independent foreign policy, which in terms of security sometimes clashes with better EU member states, and this year leads me to the other part of your question why now. So first we saw recent criticism from the EU over turkey changing the status of the highest Sofia from a museum to a mosque, of course it was originally built as a Christian Cathedral so that’s a very sensitive issue there. And second, the EU is dissatisfied with Turkey potentially aiming to seek exploiting energy resources in the Mediterranean which are in disputed waters, and that’s an area where Cyprus claims that it has exclusive rights, and the third, a long standing issue is that Turkish interests sometimes clash with French interest for example in Libya, where both have a security interest and, of course, 30 has historically been one of the regional leaders, though from the European perspective, if it has such ambitions again it’s something that doesn’t sit well with the EU so that’s why this week, we expect discussions of potential measures, and these should be mild measures to signal to Turkey that this wrist is a, is rather unfortunate
Shane Bigham: That was Adjunct Professor Ivo Ganchev and Beijing Union University, commenting on the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.