Erdogan to meet top EU chiefs to repair relations

Juncker, Erdogan and Tusk in Antalya. 14 November, 2015. [European Commission]

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.

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.”

Are there conditions for holding EU-Turkey summit?

The European Commission and the Council offered contradictory views on Friday (2 February) on whether conditions would be attached to holding an EU-Turkey summit in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna in March.

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.

EU maps out ‘credible’ Western Balkans strategy

Overcoming a decade of enlargement fatigue, the European Commission launched its long-awaited Western Balkans strategy on Tuesday (6 February), aiming to inject new momentum into EU integration and speed up the homework the six countries need to do before joining the bloc. 

Erdoğan has recently rejected proposals of a partnership with the EU, insisting full membership of the bloc is the only option.

Erdogan in Rome: Let Turkey be full EU member

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has rejected proposals of a partnership with the EU, insisting full membership to the bloc is the only option, in an interview published Sunday (4 February).


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