EU commissioners visit Turkey to discuss ‘sticky’ issues, notably refugee crisis

EU commissioners visit Turkey to discuss ‘sticky’ issues, notably refugee crisis

EU commissioners visit Turkey to discuss ‘sticky’ issues, notably refugee crisis

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (R) with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu at a roundtable meeting during a summit on relations between the European Union and Turkey and on the migration crisis at the EU headquarters in Brussels on November 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / THIERRY MONASSE

Two top executives of the European Union are scheduled to hold talks with Turkish leaders in the capital city of Ankara, as European governments are feeling overwhelmed with the numbers of Europe-bound migrants escaping war and poverty in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

EU High Representative and Vice-President (HR/VP) Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn will attend a Turkey-EU ministerial political dialogue meeting on Jan. 25, where Turkey will be represented by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and EU Minister Volkan Bozkır.

The key meeting in Ankara comes only a few days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted her Turkish counterpart, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in Berlin on Jan. 22. The two leaders pledged to continue to work intensively together to solve Europe’s migrant crisis - not only to stem the flow of people but to improve conditions in Turkey’s refugee camps and to bring about a peace deal in Syria.

Merkel, meanwhile, reiterated her call for a European solution and promised Turkey 3 billion euros ($3.24 billion) in EU aid to cope with more than 2 million Syrian refugees in the country. 

As part of the visiting delegation, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides was scheduled to arrive in Turkey over the weekend in order to visit EU-funded humanitarian aid projects that assist mainly refugees from Syria and Iraq in the regions most affected by the crisis.

“The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the common challenges ahead as key partners and strategic allies in the region. In addition to dialogue with the authorities, HR/VP Mogherini and Commissioners Hahn and Stylianides will also meet with the representatives of the four main political parties and civil society representatives. HR/VP Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides will then travel to the South East of Turkey to meet representatives of the many religious and ethnic communities living together in the region,” the European Commission said last week, while announcing the visit.

Accordingly, Mogherini and Hahn will also meet co-leader of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, at the same Jan. 25 meeting, with the ongoing violent conflict between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) likely to dominate the meeting’s agenda. 

The EU executives will later meet individually with Prime Minister Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. At parliament, they will later meet Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli.

Before travelling to the southeast, Mogherini and Hahn are also expected to meet with students at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ).

Turkey and EU announced their decision to hold biannual summits in the Turkey-EU Summit Joint Declaration of Nov. 29, 2015, in order to regularly exchange views and strengthen cooperation. The Jan. 25 meeting will thus be a preparation for the second Turkey-EU Summit.