Erdogan wants to talk EU membership
Bulgaria holds the rotating EU presidency and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is hosting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The EU is Turkey’s biggest foreign investor and trading partner.
Turkey would ask for all obstacles to its membership to be lifted and remains committed to the accession process, Erdogan said ahead of talks.
The strongman leader said it was time for the EU to “keep its promises” to Turkey after starting formal membership negotiations in 2005 that stalled for five years and have, in effect, collapsed.
“EU membership continues to be our strategic goal,” Erdogan told the media. “In today’s EU summit, we will convey our expectations about the lifting of the obstacles our country has faced.”
He said he would also demand answers over the EU’s failure to keep its promises on Syrian refugees.
The EU leaders are likely to provide Erdogan with €3 billion to extend the 2016 deal on Turkey taking in Syrian refugees.
Erdogan is looking for progress on any customs union agreement, visa liberalisation, acceleration of financial assistance to Syria and to address what he calls “terrorism”.
Turkey will launch an operation into Iraq’s northern Sinjar region if Iraqi forces do not complete an operation, Erdogan threatened. The area is controlled by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara calls a terror group.
“Our hope is that Iraq will complete the operation there thoroughly. If there is a problem achieving this goal, we will conduct our bilateral meetings and be the ones who will do what is necessary in Sinjar,” the dictatorial leader said.
The PKK took control of Sinjar in 2015 after defeating so-called Islamic State which seized the region from the Yazidi community in 2014.
Observers carry little hope for the summit warming Turkish-EU ties in Varma.
“The two sides may make a joint non-committal statement where they will seek cooperation and ensure dialogue is maintained, but there won’t be anything further,” said Alexander Clarkson of King’s College London.
“Too much effort has gone into establishing this summit for it to be cancelled but tensions on both sides are too great for there to be real progress,” added Clarkson, in reference to disputes over gas exploration by the Republic of Cyprus and Edogan’s invasion of Syria.
Fighters from the Sinjar Resistance (YBS) and Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) hold a painting of Abdullah Öcalan, their political leader and a Turkish hate figure. Picture credit: Wikimedia