EU’s top diplomat suggests working hand in hand with Turkey to address problems
The European Union’s high representative for foreign and security policies, Josep Borrell, has suggested to work with Turkey in addressing common challenges stemming from regional conflicts, as he met with Turkey’s defense and interior minister late March 3.
In a separate context, European Council President Charles Michel also arrived in Ankara for talks to overcome the ongoing refugee problem on the Turkish-Greek border. Michel will talk to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Pressure and unilateral action are not an answer. We need to work hand in hand to address common challenges, for the benefit of both Turkey and the EU,” Borrell said on Twitter after a meeting with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in Ankara. EU commissioner for crisis management Janez Larencic was also present at the meeting.
Borrell also met Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and discussed the recent developments in the Idlib province of Syria where 34 Turkish troops were killed in an attack by the regime forces late last week.
“Humanitarian situation in Idlib is of extreme gravity. Need to promote de-escalation and have an in-depth discussion with Turkey on security and defense challenges,” the EU’s representative said on Twitter.
The Foreign Affairs Council will meet in an extraordinary session on March 6 a day after the informal ministerial discussions on Syrian and Turkey in Croatia, he stated.
Meanwhile, Vice President Fuat Oktay received Borrell and the accompanying delegation.
In a one-hour closed-door meeting in çankaya Palace in the Turkish capital Ankara, the 2016 Turkey-EU deal, including issues such as migrants, visa exemption, the Customs Union, and EU membership negotiations, were discussed.
During the meeting, it was stressed that the EU should fulfill its responsibilities and there should be a 'fair share of responsibility' among the parties.
The agreement on March 16, 2016, had pledged visa-free travel to Turkish citizens along with financial support, resettlement, and revising of the Customs Union.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister and Director for EU Affairs Faruk Kaymakçı, Director General for EU Relations at the Turkish Foreign Ministry Ambassador Başak Turkoglu, head of Turkish Interior Ministry's migration management department Abdullah Ayaz, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic and head of the EU Delegation to Turkey Christian Berger also attended the meeting.