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A Trilateral EU-US-Turkey Strategy for the Neighbourhood: The Urgency of Now


Turkey, the European Union and the United States have always shared the same vision for the European neighbourhood. During the Cold War and its immediate aftermath, this shared vision neither necessarily meant agreement on policy means, nor did it call for joint action. 9/11, the end of the Middle East Peace Process, the search for a credible alternative to EU enlargement, and Turkey’s growing regional prominence converged, upping the stakes for a joint EU-US-Turkey strategy. Yet the greater the need for joint action, the less likely it appeared to be. Then came the Arab spring, which has transformed, once again, the tone of the debate, making a trilateral strategy for the neighbourhood both more desirable and more feasible. Such a strategy could include the establishment of a standing trilateral working group for the neighbourhood, which would determine whether, when and in what policy areas complementary action should proceed, separately or simultaneously. Broadly speaking, a strategy would foresee diplomatic public and private interventions, assistance, trade and security cooperation. In some areas, such as diplomacy, assistance and trade, there could be a useful division of labour between the three. In the field of security instead, as currently demonstrated in Syria, joint action would be warranted.