“Erdoğan said that 2021 offered a productive atmosphere in terms of new cooperation to be built in the sphere of migration,” according to the statement, which suggested that the 2016 EU Turkey migration deal — which seeks to control the crossing of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands — could be updated.
Erdoğan also said “the Customs Union should be updated, visa liberalization should be provided to Turkish citizens and steps should be taken in terms of membership negotiations.”
In general, the Turkish president said “mutual trust should be restored” between the two sides — but he also lashed out at “the caprices of some EU member states and the artificial problems created by them.”
Last year, tensions between the EU and Turkey escalated after a standoff between a French frigate and Turkish ships in June.
EU leaders in December called on the European Commission to produce a report on EU-Turkey relations, including options on how to proceed, by March.
“Good exchange with Turkish President [Erdogan],” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted after the call on Saturday.
“We stand ready to continue working on dialogue with Turkey,” tweeted EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who also attended. “I look forward to welcoming [Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu] to pursue the tasking received by [EU] leaders.”
EU has priority in Turkey’s agenda, Erdoğan says, reiterating new era with bloc
Ankara has opted for a new beginning in ties with the European Union in the new year and continues to send positive messages to overcome disagreements that have been roadblocks between the two allies for the past few years in the relationship. The two strategic allies have been on a bumpy road with different stances on several issues, including the Eastern Mediterranean tensions, Turkey’s role in Syria, the migrant crisis and the stalemate in Turkey’s accession process to the bloc. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his latest message on Saturday once again said Turkey prioritizes the EU in its agenda and sees its future in Europe.
The remarks came during a videoconference with the head of the European Commission to discuss Turkey-EU relations. Erdoğan and Ursula von der Leyen discussed ways to develop relations between Turkey and the EU and addressed regional developments, Turkey’s Communications Directorate said in a statement.
Erdoğan told von der Leyen that the EU is highly important in the nation’s plans moving forward. He reiterated that Turkey sees its future in Europe.
He also pointed out the importance of resuming regular Turkey-EU summits and high-level dialogue.
Turkey wants to open a new page in relations with the EU in the new year, Erdoğan said, adding that the interaction with the EU in 2020 was unproductive due to the whims and artificial problems that some EU members produced, according to the statement.
He added that the situation is unsustainable, not only in terms of future relations but also in terms of the broad common geography.
Following several years of deteriorating relations between Ankara and Brussels due to several issues, Turkish officials have recently offered warm messages to the EU for beginning a new era.
Turkey hopes to turn a “new page” with the EU and wants to build its future with the bloc, Erdoğan said last month during the highest-level contact with a European official since Brussels decided on sanctions in early December.
“While Turkey hopes to turn a new page with the EU, some ceaselessly try to provoke crises,” Erdoğan told European Council President Charles Michel in a telephone call.
Erdoğan called for rescuing Turkish-European relations from “this vicious circle,” adding that he hoped to “start again” in talks with the EU “on a basis of mutual interests.”
On another occasion, Erdoğan stated in late December that 2021 will be a year of foreign policy for Turkey, as he urged all European countries and the U.S. to start with a clean slate in the new year.
Last month, the EU prepared punitive measures over Turkey’s dispute with members of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration over rights to offshore resources in the Eastern Mediterranean but decided to postpone the measures until March despite an earlier push by Paris to sanction Ankara.