Germany cautiously optimistic about EU-Turkey ties

Relations between Turkey and the European Union look to be better this year after the difficulties experienced in 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.

Maas’ comments came after he hosted his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Berlin for talks on a range of bilateral issues.

Asked at a joint press conference what more Germany could do to support Turkey joining the EU, Maas said: “Turkey can contribute the most", according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Political tensions between Ankara and Brussels intensified last year amid a row between Turkey and EU member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and access to hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.

The EU threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over the issue in December. But the EU has taken a more conciliatory approach following a charm offensive by Turkish official since the start of he year.

At March’s European Council meeting EU leaders said they were “ready to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner, provided that the current de-escalation is sustained and that Turkey engages constructively”.

Turkey has been an official EU candidate country since 1999 but accession negotiations have stalled in recent years due to Ankara’s failure to comply with the required criteria on human rights and the judiciary.

"We know ... that we are interested in these talks, and of course in goals and results. Last year, was a difficult year in the relationship between the EU and Turkey. This year looks to be a much better one," Maas said.