The EU’s top officials met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Tuesday.
The visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel came after EU leaders agreed to deepen trade ties and provide more money for refugees in Turkey.
Following the meeting, Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference that “the Commission will soon make a (funding) proposal.”
But Turkey must respect the rule of law and adhere to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, she added.
We are aiming for an honest partnership.
A partnership between the EU & Turkey that enables us to strengthen what brings us together and address what divides us.
It is still the beginning of the road. The weeks and months ahead will show how far we can go on this road together. pic.twitter.com/Xe6ZHqP1IP
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 6, 2021
On his part, Michel said the bloc, which backs Athens, supported the resumption of talks with Ankara.
“Our engagement will be progressive, proportional and reversible and we hope Turkey will seize this window of opportunity,” he added.
“The rule of law and respect of fundamental rights are core values of the European Union, and we shared with President Erdoğan our deep worries on the latest developments in Turkey in this respect, in particular on the freedom of speech and the targeting of political parties and media.”
The leaders of EU nations are scheduled to assess progress on EU-Turkey ties again when they meet in June.
Recent de-escalation must be sustained and enhanced.
We have told @RTErdogan the EU is ready to put a concrete and positive agenda on the table.
Our engagement will be progressive, proportional and reversible.
We hope Turkey will seize this window of opportunity. pic.twitter.com/CR9xnqoaJJ
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) April 6, 2021
*More on GCT: EU Commissioner says Turkey should “urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece”
Earlier this week, Greece’s Migration & Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi sent a letter to the European Commission.
The letter emphasises, among other things, that “it is a well-established fact that these migrants departed the Turkish coast, and given that they were under close observation and escort by Turkish vessels, the conclusion is that they were not being persecuted, and their lives were not in danger.”
He was backed by Greek Coast Guard data showing Turkish support of these failed attempts at illegal crossings.
“It is beyond doubt that the Turkish authorities continue to support the passage of migrants, with the clear aim of creating propaganda through the media, putting pressure on the EU’s external borders and thus seeking to escalate with Greece,” he continued.
The Minister stressed that Greece “does not tolerate illegal migrant crossings orchestrated by Turkey,” and called on the European Union “to react in a coordinated manner to such actions, which do not specifically target one member state, but the EU as a whole.”