Cooperation with Turkey must continue, southern European leaders agree
NICOSIA – Anadolu Agency
Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pose for a family photo during the Southern EU Countries summit at Filoxenia Conference centre in Nicosia, Cyprus on Jan 29. (REUTERS / Yiannis Kourtoglou)
The leaders from seven EU countries - Spain, Portugal, France, Malta, Italy, Greece and Greek Cypriot - convened in the Greek Cypriot side of divided Nİcosia, for the the 5th Southern EU Countries Summit on Jan. 29 to exchange ideas on security, energy and migration in line with the “profound commitment to the European project.”
“We reaffirm the importance of the EU relations with Turkey and reiterate our commitment to maintaining an open dialogue, to addressing common challenges and to cooperating in essential areas of joint interest such as migration, counter terrorism, transport, economy and trade,” the leaders said in the joint declaration came after the summit.
The summit, demanding Turkey to normalize its relations with its EU neighbors, reiterated its call on the candidate country to fulfil its pending obligations under the Negotiating Framework.
Speaking to the reporters following the summit, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan next week in Istanbul and inform him about the summit declaration.
He also emphasized that international law and mutual respect is the hinge of Turkey-EU relations, as in relations of all EU member states.
On the irregular migrants crisis, Tsipras said the EU needs new asylum system based on solidarity and fair share of responsibility.
However, the declaration called for reforms in the current Common European Asylum System.
Another topic of the summit, the U.K.’s withdrawal from the bloc was called as “regrettable”, yet, “one we respect.”
“We stand firmly by the Withdrawal Agreement and we intend to proceed with its ratification,” the declaration said.
The EU leaders also underlined that they attach particular importance to the strengthening of relations.
Another summit of the bloc, EU-League of Arab States Summit will take place in February 2019.