Turkey-EU summit planned to be held March: EU official

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The foreign minister of Romania, which is term president of the European Council until mid-2019, has said the bloc is working on a Turkey-EU summit to be held early March.

Speaking in Brussels, Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said the planned summit can take place in Romania’s capital Bucharest with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other officials.

Melescanu stressed his country’s support for Turkey’s accession process to the EU and added: “We are working on the summit. Hopefully the summit will bring President Erdoğan and EU officials together. We have not set the date yet but most probably it will be at the beginning of March.”

Melescanu said one of the priorities will be to convene the Turkey-EU Partnership Council again. “Our aim is to accelerate the talks in several topics. One of these topics is a possible update on the customs union,” he said.

Romania took over the EU’s rotating presidency on Jan. 1 and will be in charge for the next six months as the European Union faces a series of tricky tests – most notably Brexit, European parliamentary elections, and wrangling over the next budget.

The Eastern European nation, which takes the presidency for the first time as it succeeds Austria, joined the union in 2007.

The council – the highest decision-making body between Turkey and the EU – has not convened since the last summit in 2015.

Turkey-EU negotiations began in 2005 and so far Turkey has opened just 16 out of 33 chapters.

The last Turkey-EU summit convened in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna in March 2018, as Bulgaria was the term president of the EU.

Erdoğan, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov joined the summit during which topics like the refugee agreement between Turkey and the EU were on the table. EU officials, EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Neighborhood Policy Minister Johannes Hahn were also in Ankara in November for the Turkey-EU High Level Political Dialogue meeting.

In the meeting they discussed Turkey’s long-stalled membership bid and foreign policy issues of common interest, including United States’ sanctions on Iran, the refugee crisis and the situation in Syria.

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