Top EU officials head to Turkey to reset ties

International | Written by : IANS| Updated:

Top EU officials head to Turkey to reset ties

Ankara, April 6 (IANS) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are heading to Turkey on Tuesday for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an effort to reset strained relations.

In addition to meeting the Turkish President, the EU officials also have discussions scheduled with representatives of the International Organization for Migration and other UN bodies, reports dpa news agency.

These meetings are likely to cover EU financial support for Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as Ankara's recent withdrawal from the Istanbul convention on tackling violence against women.

Last month, EU leaders offered to discuss updating Turkey's 25-year-old customs union with the bloc and extend their migration pact with Ankara, as long as their neighbour continues to engage "constructively".

But the 27 member states warned they were still prepared to apply sanctions, if Turkey resumed its "illegal" energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

In the most recent flare-up of a long-standing dispute last year, Turkey clashed with EU member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions calmed towards the end of 2020.

Despite concerns about the deterioration of the rule of law and a crackdown on political opponents in Turkey following a 2016 failed coup, the European Union and Ankara remain major trading partners with shared security interests.

The bloc also cooperates with Turkey to curb immigration.

In 2016 Ankara promised to seal off its borders and take back irregular migrants from the Greek islands in exchange for some 6 billion euros.