by DAILY SABAH
European Council chief Charles Michel gave President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a call late Tuesday in which the Turkish head of state underlined that Turkey envisions a future based on close ties with the European Union, a statement from the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications said.
According to the statement, Erdoğan emphasized that Turkey sees every positive step in its relations with the EU as another opportunity.
The president also said that Turkey-EU relations must be immediately salvaged from the vicious cycle they are currently in where some circles are constantly trying to create new crises.
With regards to Turkey’s problems with Greece over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, Erdoğan emphasized that Turkey is ready to restart exploratory talks but Greece continues to back down and instead takes provocative steps.
The president also said that Turkey still wants to attend an international conference organized for defusing the tensions. Any possible conference regarding the issue should not exclude any party, including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), as the Turkish side has always tried its best for a solution on the island, he added.
The president further reiterated that most of the EU’s concerns overlap with that of Turkey’s and that both parties share similar principles and aims, adding that Turkey is ready to re-engage in talks with the EU on the basis of mutual benefit.
Erdoğan also added that the March 18 refugee deal is important for Turkey-EU ties and that it will lead to positive results when combined with a constructive attitude by the bloc.
Turkey and the EU signed an agreement on March 18, 2016, to stem the influx of refugees to Europe. Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. With the agreement, irregular arrivals decreased by 99%, saving the lives of many of those who would have attempted the treacherous journey by sea.
Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under a 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.