EU Council President Donald Tusk has said while no progress was made at the talks, he hopes compromises will be possible in the future. The head of the EU Commission said he’d like Turkey to be a strategic partner.
European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday said the latest summit between European Union representatives and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan achieved no concrete solutions or compromises on points of concern.
“If you ask whether we reached any concrete solutions or compromises, the answer is no,” said Tusk, following a summit with EU and Turkish representatives in the Bulgarian costal town of Varna.
“But I still hope that will be possible in the future … Only progress on these issues will allow us to improve the EU-Turkey relations, including the accession process.”
President Erdogan was a little more optimistic. “We hope that we have left behind the difficult period in relations between Turkey and the European Union,” he said, adding that the two parties had discussed the steps needed to improve EU-Turkey ties.
The summit touched on a range of issues that have caused tension between Turkey and the EU, such as migration, EU membership and Turkey’s fight against “terror” groups including Kurdish militants.
On the EU-Turkey relationship: Tusk said the EU and Turkey needed an open and frank dialogue, and that while the two parties had many common interests there were challenges that needed to be worked on together.
“Our meeting today demonstrated that while our relationship is going through difficult times, in areas where we do cooperate, we cooperate well,” Tusk said. “We reconfirm our readiness to keep up the dialogue and conversation and work together to overcome current difficulties with a view to unleashing the potential of our partnership.”
On Turkey’s EU membership: Following the summit, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he would like Turkey to be a strategic partner of the EU, while Erdogan warned that leaving Turkey out of an EU enlargement would be a big mistake.
Speaking before the meeting, Erodgan said, “As Turkey, we have been continuing on our way with the goal of full membership [of the EU] despite all the mines that were planted on our path and barriers in front of us. Today, membership in the European Union remains a strategic goal for us.”
On migration: Tusk said the EU was fully committed to continuing support for Syrian refugees living in Turkey. The EU said, as promised, it would allocate another €3 billion ($3.75 billion) to provide support for Syrian refugees in Turkey. “There should be no doubt that the EU will honor its commitments,” Juncker said.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said good relations with Turkey were important “to handle the migratory flow, which has created many problems for the Union in recent years.”
On the fight against terror: Erdogan said Turkey expected the EU’s support rather than criticism in its fight against terrorism. Tusk said both the EU and Turkey wanted to expand cooperation regarding foreign terrorist fighters.
law/cmk (dpa, reuters)