Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet top European Union officials next month in the Bulgarian city of Varna, officials said Tuesday (6 February), in a bid to repair strained ties.
The planned meeting on 26 March comes as Turkey’s EU membership has stalled and as Ankara faces recriminations over its crackdown after a coup attempt and its offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria.
Erdoğan is set to meet European Council chief Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whose country holds the bloc’s presidency, Tusk spokesman Preben Aamann tweeted.
EU-Turkey meeting with @eucopresident Tusk, @RT_Erdogan, @JunckerEU and @BoykoBorissov planned for 26 March in Varna, Bulgaria, to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues. pic.twitter.com/jZ2UM7lp0n
— Preben Aamann (@PrebenEUspox) February 6, 2018
He said the a working dinner is “planned for 26 March in Varna, Bulgaria, to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues.”
Tusk and Juncker said in an invitation letter that they would bring up issues including the rule of law in Turkey, a thorny issue over which Brussels has criticised Erdoğan in the wake of the post-coup clampdown.
“This will be a good opportunity to jointly assess matters of mutual interest and recent developments in your country, including in the area of rule of law and fundamental freedoms,” Tusk and Juncker wrote.
They said they would also discuss “regional and international issues”, with Turkey’s offensive in Syria having caused alarm in EU circles. They will also discuss how to “move our relationship forward on the basis of mutual respect and common interest.”
The meeting is scheduled as the EU is coming out of enlargement fatigue and opening the door to the Western Balkans.
Erdoğan has recently rejected proposals of a partnership with the EU, insisting full membership of the bloc is the only option.