On April 6, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with EU representatives. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel arrived to Turkey to discuss different topics that are currently shaping the relationship between Brussels and Ankara.
The negotiations included the renewal of the migration agreement of 2016 and the Customs Union, the facilitation of the visa regime for Turkish citizens, as well as international high-level contacts. One of the main topics was the refugee agreement, that was signed in 2016 in order to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering Europe through Turkey. The EU has allocated about 3 billion euros to Turkey to help overcome the refugee crisis. Today the sides hold talks on the renewing of the agreement that is going to expire.
The Turkish side called on the EU to take steps to maintain a positive relations between the two sides, including deepening of political and economic cooperation, as well as sharing of common responsibility in the refugees issue. Ankara also stressed out the importance of sharing efforts in the fight against terrorism, including ISIS, PKK, YPG, as well as the Gulenist movement (Fethullah Gulen Organization, which Ankara accuses of attempting a military coup on July 15, 2016. At the same time, Erdogan called on his European counterparts to respect the Turkish sovereignty over legal trials in the country, as the EU calls on liberation of opposition leaders like Selahattin Demirtaş. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) released a statement that his imprisonment is cover for limiting pluralism and debate in Turkey.
Among other topics, the parties discussed the situation in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Eastern Mediterranean.
“The ultimate goal for President Erdogan is the final entry of Turkey to the EU,” Turkish Press Secretary Ibrahim Kalyn, summed up the meeting.
This marks a significant shape in Ankara’s public policy. During 2015 Turkey claimed that it was no more interested in entering the EU, being a candidate since 2005.
Despite friendly claims, Erdogan used his chance to show his position towards his European counterparts. During the official ceremonies, there was a number of evident signals from Turkish president that were probably aimed at demonstrating his “superior position”.