EU committed to cooperation with Ankara, senior officials say
Two senior officials from the EU Commission visited Ankara with a focus on cooperation on migration issues, marking a first visit from Brussels after the new EU leadership took office on Dec. 1.
“The visit was an occasion to show concretely that the EU is committed to continuing its engagement and cooperation with Turkey, as a candidate country, a key strategic partner and neighbor,” read a statement by the delegation.
“The start of the new political cycle in the EU is an occasion to renew that commitment, and the visit, which took place in the first week of the new Commission taking office, is a testament to this,” the statement added.
Margaritis Schinas, vice president for promoting European way of life and Ylva Johansson, commissioner for home affairs, met senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Schinas and Ylva took the office on Dec. 1 under the cabinet of the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
They also met with Vice President Fuat Oktay, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Deputy Speaker of the Turkish Parliament Levent Gök and Deputy Foreign Minister and Director of EU Affairs Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı.
During the meeting, the care of Syrian refugees in Turkey was also discussed and Vice-President Schinas and Commissioner Johansson underlined the “already committed support under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.”
“They also recognized that the needs will continue and that these should continue to be met with EU support going forward,” the statement said.
After the meetings, Vice-President Schinas and Commissioner Johansson visited the Turkish Parliament and laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the attempted coup in July 2016.
Meanwhile, following the meetings Turkish deputy interior minister said that the meeting went “positive” yet what matters is the implementation.
“I hope we can open a new page with the EU for the following period and revive relations. We are always for dialogue,” Faruk Kaymakçı said.
Kaymakçı also added that during the meeting, Turkish officials underlined the need for cooperation in migration and the fight against terrorism and update in the current customs union agreement.
Turkish officials also stressed the necessity for reviving Turkey’s membership negotiations to the EU and the latter’s support for visa liberalization to Ankara, the deputy minister conveyed.
“There is no country which can contribute to the EU more than Turkey,” he stressed.