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Senior EU officials travel to Turkey for reset | Voice of America




ISTANBUL – Senior EU officials are traveling to Turkey on Tuesday to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to restore relations.

In order to ease the latest tensions, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen will seek a framework for cooperation with Turkey during their meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.

The EU wants to continue a 2016 refugee deal that made Turkey Europe’s guardian for migrants and refugees. Analyst Sinan Ulgen of the research organization Edam in Istanbul said Ankara is ready for a deal – at a price.

“The Turkish government seems to want to extend this agreement on condition that the EU puts in place a funding mechanism similar to the financial package of past years. And also, the EU will give the green light to the start of negotiations for the modernization of the ‘customs union (agreement) and the revitalization of the visa liberalization process,’ Ulgen said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets the video monitor as he participates in a video conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on March 19, 2021.

Michel and Von Leyen will convey to Erdogan the message from last month’s European summit: that any concessions will be linked to the continuation of negotiations between Turkey and EU member Greece. The talks aim to resolve territorial disputes over the division of the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean, which are said to have significant energy reserves. According to analyst Asla Aydintasbas, despite the Turkish-Greek talks, the situation remains unstable.

“Although we have had the start of Turkish-Greek talks aimed at de-escalation, it is really ripe for tensions as you still have a solution to some of the underlying problems in the Aegean,” Aydintasbas said.

But Turkey’s human rights record should not be high on Tuesday’s talks. Ankara last month withdrew from a key convention to protect women and prosecutors, opened closing proceedings against Turkey’s second-largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish HDP.

But Emma Sinclair Webb of New York-based Human Rights Watch fears pragmatism may usurp the principle, and her group calls on the European Union not to ignore human rights issues.

“I think Ankara thinks he can get away with anything right now, but I think it’s time for the EU to start talking in much harsher language in Ankara, to The EU seems weak in constantly trying to put a positive effect on things, developments that are not reasonable, ”said Webb.

With Turkey hosting around four million Syrian refugees, analysts say the priority of the EU leader’s meeting on Tuesday with Erdogan will likely be to ensure Turkey’s permanent role as custodian of refugees and avoid tensions with Greece.

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