Turkey, EU agree on 12-month calendar in accession bid

Turkey, EU agree on 12-month calendar in accession bid

Fikret Bila - ANKARA
Turkey, EU agree on 12-month calendar in accession bid Turkey and the European Union have agreed on a 12-month calendar on the future of Turkey’s accession bid, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 25 while returning to Turkey from meetings with the bloc’s top executives and leaders of the European powerhouses.

The EU conducted some studies before the meetings, Erdoğan told journalists.

“We got a 12-month calendar from them about the studies they made. We will make a study on this calendar with the Foreign Ministry and the EU Ministry,” the president said. 

In long-anticipated gatherings, Erdoğan met Council of Europe President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker before a NATO summit in the Belgian capital on May 25. 

The president also had separate meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May at a time when ties between Turkey and the bloc have become strained. 

“The EU and Turkey must and will continue to cooperate. Major issues of common interest were discussed in detail in a good and constructive atmosphere,” a spokeswoman for the European Commission said after the meetings.

Erdoğan, Juncker and Tusk discussed the state of a 2016 agreement in which Ankara prevents migrants from traveling from its territory to Europe in return for visa-free travel to the bloc for Turkish citizens and funds to aid refugees in Turkey. 

“This is not only the visa issue. We have raised the issue of Red Crescent and AFAD support. This matter was also on the agenda and we will continue the works on that mutually,” Erodğan said. 

For the deal, Reuters quoted one EU official as saying that “it is working so far.”

Turkish presidential sources said Erdoğan, Tusk and Juncker had emphasized the need for the implementation of the migrant agreement. 

Turkey says Europe has failed to deliver on its side of the deal as the EU pushes Turkey to change its anti-terror law. 

Erdoğan said the meeting was “positive” in terms of “giving a new and positive acceleration to the EU membership process.”

“We discussed the implementation of the Turkey-EU migration deal and the visa issue. We wanted support for Turkey in the struggle against terrorism. We have to leave behind what happened during the [Turkish] referendum process. A wish for the start of a new process was also brought to agenda by Tusk and Junker,” Erdoğan said.

Relations between the bloc and Ankara soured during the campaign for the April 16 constitutional referendum, with Germany and the Netherlands banning Turkish ministers from holding rallies to meet with Turkish voters abroad. 

Erdoğan said he also met with European Parliament chair Antonio Tajani.

“Tajani’s look on Turkey is very, very positive,” Erdoğan said.