Turkey will be among the countries that will be invited as a candidate country to the event marking the 20th anniversary of the EU’s “big enlargement” in 2004, revealed Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib of Belgium, the holder of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU for the current six-month period, in response to a question posed by To Vima after the end of the informal Council of Foreign Ministers (or Gymnich) in Brussels.

Hadja Lahbib also stressed Turkey’s backsliding with regard to the Rule of Law, and also referred to the Cyprus issue.

“Turkey is a crucial partner with whom we are not aligned on certain issues, including the Rule of Law, democracy and the independence of the judiciary, and which also has its differences with member states over, for example, Cyprus,” she said.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell, responding to the same question from To Vima as to whether 2024 will be a testing year for Turkey or whether the steps it has taken to date will be enough to allow further progress, even in relation to visa liberalization, reiterated that “everyone agrees that that we to go to strong engagement with Turkey to avoid confrontation and increase cooperation but this will depend on the evolution of facts”.

Regarding the visa issue, he said it was not discussed, but as he stressed, “the general feeling is that in order even to solve the Cyprus issue, Cyprus is a member of the EU, which is very high on the EU’s agenda, we need to engage more with Turkey in a positive manner”