<a title="Turkey" href="/search/Turkey">Turkey</a>’s President Recep Tayyip <a title="Erdoğan" href="/search/Erdoğan" rel="nofollow">Erdoğan</a> and European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Jan. 9 discussed the steps aimed at enhancing the relations between Turkey and the European Union, the Turkish authorities have said.
In a video conference, Erdoğan and the EU official discussed the ways to develop relations between Turkey and the EU and addressed regional developments, Turkey’s Communications Directorate said in a statement.
The EU is on the priority of Turkey’s agenda, Erdoğan told von der Leyen, reiterating that Turkey sees its future in Europe.
He also pointed out the importance of resuming regular Turkey-EU summits and high-level dialogue meetings.
Turkey wants to open a new page in relations with the EU in the new year, Erdoğan said, adding that the year 2020 could not be made enough use of due to the whims and artificial problems that some EU members produced, according to the statement.
He added that this situation was not sustainable not only in terms of maintaining future relations but also in terms of the broad common geography. Erdoğan also said that updating the 2016 refugee deal would be the first step for a positive agenda on Turkey-EU relations.
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in 2016, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly four million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Erdoğan pointed out that the year 2021 offers a productive environment for new cooperation to be initiated in the field of migration.
The Customs Union agreement between Turkey and EU should be updated, Erdoğan stated, adding that Turkish nationals should be allowed visa-free travel within the Schengen area and steps should be taken in talks on Turkey’s EU accession.
He also mentioned reestablishing mutual trust and rerunning the consultation mechanism. Erdoğan underlined the need for an end to “exclusionary and discriminatory rhetoric” against Turkey.
Von der Leyen, for her part, said on Twitter: “Good exchange with Turkish President @RTErdoğan. We exchanged on the #COVID19 situation, the economic recovery, and the implementation of tasking of the European Council of December 2020.”
Turkey is working to turn new chapters in its relations with the EU, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 7, noting that European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were expected to pay a visit to Turkey.
The top Turkish diplomat is expected to visit Brussels to hold talks with the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on Jan. 21.
Following months of strain due to Turkey’s search for hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, Ankara and Brussels stepped up for better dialogue last month.
Last month, at the EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels, it was decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions over Ankara’s “unilateral actions and provocations” in the eastern Mediterranean, believed to be rich in energy resources. But they postponed their further decisions such as on trade tariffs or an arms embargo until they have consulted with the upcoming U.S. administration.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.