It’s time for EU to take concrete steps: Erdoğan
Turkey has called on the European Union to take concrete steps on the modernization of the customs union and migrant deal ahead of the bloc’s pivotal summit later this week where ties with Ankara will be discussed.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke over the phone with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on late June 21, the Presidential Communications Directorate has announced. The conversation came as the EU Council will meet on June 24 and 25 to discuss matters.
“Stating that Turkey had done more than what fell to itself and that it was now the EU’s turn to take concrete steps, President Erdoğan noted that it was high time for the implementation of a positive agenda with Turkey,” read the statement.
Underscoring that the negotiations to update the Customs Union should immediately begin without any precondition, Erdoğan expressed Turkey’s wish for the High-Level Dialogue meetings to be started in a manner to also cover areas of cooperation in public health, climate change, internal affairs, migration and the fight against terror.
The EU Council in March signaled that it might approve the EU Commission to start formal talks with Turkey on the modernization of the Customs Union. There are, however, signs that the EU Council will likely postpone the decision on the Customs Union due to the opposition of Greek Cyprus and Greece.
Erdoğan also highlighted that the ensuring of visa liberalization was a step for which the Turkish people had waited for a long time and recalled the need for strengthening and implementing the migrant deal of 2016 between Turkey and the EU.
Turkey still needs to fulfill six benchmarks for visa liberalization, but it seeks some facilitative moves from the EU.
Turkey and the EU in March 2016 signed a refugee deal that aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Turkey has said falling numbers of migrant crossings show it upheld its part of the deal, but the EU failed to keep its half, including visa liberalization and financial aid for refugees.
‘Good conversation’ with Erdoğan
Von der Leyen had a “good conversation” with Erdoğan, the top EU official wrote separately referring to the phone call.
“We discussed the state of EU-Turkey relations, COVID-19, Trade and Customs Union, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, migration and developments in Afghanistan,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
The conversation came ahead of an EU summit this Thursday and Friday where EU leaders are expected to discuss the bloc’s relationship with Turkey.
However, earlier on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters that the summit would focus mostly on ties with Russia and would not discuss Turkey in depth.
New term in ties with US
Erdoğan assessed the current state of ties between Turkey and the United States after his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on June 14 on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.
“We mutually expressed the known problems between our countries and reiterated our positions. Also, we exchanged views in a comprehensive and productive manner regarding our future areas of cooperation,” Erdoğan said.
“We are determined to turn this nice climate we achieved with Mr. Biden into maximum benefit for our countries by strengthening our channels of dialogue with the U.S. on all levels,” he said.
“In this spirit, we believe we have ushered in a new era with the U.S. on a positive and constructive basis,” he added.