EU prepares for high-level dialogue with Turkey
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (R) talks to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) as President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen follows behind on the first day of a European Union (EU) summit at The European Council Building in Brussels, Belgium, June 24, 2021. (AFP Photo)

EU prepares for high-level dialogue with Turkey

Leaders at the two-day European Union summit in Brussels noted preparations for high-level dialogue with Turkey on migration, health, climate, counterterrorism and regional issues, Anadolu Agency (AA) said in a report late Thursday.

AA further added that EU leaders have noted the start of technical work for authorization to update the Customs Union between the bloc and Turkey.

According to AA, EU leaders have also asked the European Commission to submit a formal proposal for funding for Syrians in Turkey and other countries in region without delay.

EU leaders gathered to discuss the bloc’s relations with Turkey and Russia.

“We have a possibly positive agenda provided that we have a constructive engagement from Turkey,” a senior EU official told AA ahead of the leaders’ meeting.

“We have been working on a different dimension, technical work started on the mandate for the modernization of the customs union, in line with the principles” that leaders outlined during their summit in March, the official added.

The EU leaders will also discuss the financial support for refugees hosted by Turkey, European Commission’s deputy spokesperson Dana Spinant confirmed earlier this week.

However, EU heads of states and governments are not expected to make a decision on the future of EU-Turkey relations. They will only assess the European Commission’s draft proposals presented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ahead of the summit, von der Leyen spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the phone on Monday.

She described the exchange as “a good conversation” in a social media post and explained that they “discussed the state of EU-Turkey relations, COVID-19, Trade and Customs Union, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, migration and developments in Afghanistan.”

Erdoğan also stressed that the EU needs to take positive steps in its ties with Turkey.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also met EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell over the weekend to discuss migration, visa liberalization and Turkey-EU ties.

He told a news conference the EU must “return to the table” on negotiations with Turkey. “We expect concrete steps from the EU now,” Çavuşoğlu said.

It was reported Wednesday that the bloc is considering allocating 3.5 billion euros ($4.18 billion) for Turkey, which continues to host around 4 million refugees.

The total 5.77 billion euro package for Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which goes to humanitarian projects, not governments, aims to prevent a new refugee influx into the EU and win time until the 10-year Syrian civil war eventually ends.

Turkey hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees and has spent more than $40 billion (TL 345 billion) providing basic services but wants the EU funds to be paid directly to the government in Ankara.

This article originally appeared in DAILY SABAH on 25 June 2021.