EU welcomes positive dialogue with Turkey

Alaturka Politika Haberleri

By Omer Tugrul Cam

BRUSSELS (AA) – President of the European Council Charles Michel welcomed the current positive dialogue with Turkey, an EU official said Friday after Michel's meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"President of the EU Council welcomed current positive dialogue and stressed the importance to sustainably de-escalate tensions in eastern Mediterranean,” said the official, adding Michel urged Cavusoglu "to refrain from activities that might fuel tensions."

The official said that members of the EU Council would discuss relations with Turkey again in March, adding that the bloc is "look forward to progress resumption of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece as well as Cyprus settlement process."

"President of the EU Council repeated wish to have a constructive relationship with Turkey but need to see tangible results on the ground," added the official, noting that Michel had welcomed an invitation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a visit to Ankara, with the date and format yet to be hammered out.

It was added that the positive agenda with Turkey "could include focus on migration issues, customs union modernization and 'high-level' sectoral dialogues."

Michel had said on Twitter that he had discussed the EU-Turkey relationship with Cavusoglu ahead of the EU leaders summit to be held in March.

"Dialogue needs to produce tangible outcomes in the interest of both EU and Turkey," he said.

Cavusoglu, who arrived in Brussels on Wednesday for a two-day visit, met a number of top EU officials, including European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the bloc's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

– Turkey-EU relations

Turkey-EU relations had been tense until the end of 2020, due to the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean. But the relations gained momentum this month after both sides repeatedly expressed their will to establish a positive agenda.

Speaking at a meeting with the ambassadors of the EU member states in Ankara on Jan. 12, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is ready to set a "positive agenda" with the EU, adding that he expected the envoys to support "turning a new page" in relations.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Ankara on Monday for talks with his Turkish counterpart. He said Germany welcomed recent diplomatic initiatives by Turkey and expected this positive momentum to continue.

Turkey and Greece announced last week that they will resume the exploratory talks on Jan. 25 in Istanbul after a four-year hiatus. Talks are expected to focus on bilateral disputes, including maritime boundaries and drilling rights in the region.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara sent several drill ships last year to explore for energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.

*Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara