Turkey's Erdogan, EU chiefs meet to mend eroded ties

27 March, 2018, 17:50 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Erdogan says 3,747 terrorists 'neutralized' in Afrin

"Our operations against terrorism do not just contribute to our and the Syrians' security, but to Europe's security as well", Erdogan said.

Erdogan said he would urge the EU to remove "political and artificial" hurdles against Turkey's membership and revive stalled accession negotiations during talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk.

Erdogan announced the new engagement to a crowd in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, declaring: "We said we would go into Sinjar". Turkey remains an important ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and the fight against Islamic militants, but Erdogan's increasingly bellicose rhetoric towards the West, his cosying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his own brand of nationalistic political Islam has alarmed most of the EU's heads of state.

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In March 2016, European Union and Turkey reached an agreement to take stricter measures against human smugglers and discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

"I would like to express our appreciation for the impressive work Turkey has been doing, and to sincerely thank Turkey and the Turkish people for hosting more than three million Syrian refugees these past years".

On Cyprus, Erdogan reiterated the Turkish Cypriot community's rights to Cyprus' resources and said the European Union had "nothing to contribute" to the dispute as long as it does not maintain a "fair" approach.

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Turkey objects to "unilateral" gas searches by ethnically divided Cyprus' Greek Cypriot-run government without the direct involvement of breakaway Turkish Cypriots. President Tayyip Erdogan said last week they were creating a new base in Sinjar, and that Turkish forces would attack it if necessary. On the other hand, the Turkish officials have been consistently indicating their willingness to reach a deal with the U.S. over the other Kurdish regions of Syria, mainly Manbij, presuming, that the United States would expel YPG and other Kurdish militant elements from those areas and Turkey would accept not to expand the scope of its military operation.

However, EU diplomats said that Erdogan's invitation to Varna will come at the price of more sharp criticism from EU counterparts who say that Turkey has been backsliding on democracy and human rights since a failed coup in July 2016.

Brussels has repeatedly criticised the post-coup crackdown, which has seen almost 160,000 people detained, including dozens of journalists.

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"We encourage Turkey to work with the Council of Europe, of which Turkey has been a member longer than most EU Member States".

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