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EU officials head to Turkey to reset ties in talks with Erdogan


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are expected in Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, using a lull in tensions to try to reset strained relations.

In addition to meeting the Turkish leader, the European Union (EU) officials also have discussions scheduled with representatives of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and other United Nations (UN) bodies.

These meetings are likely to cover EU financial support for Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as Ankara’s recent withdrawal from the Istanbul convention on tackling violence against women.

Last month, EU leaders offered to discuss updating Turkey’s 25-year-old customs union with the bloc and extend their migration pact with Ankara – as long as their neighbour continues to engage “constructively.”

But the 27 member states warned they were still prepared to apply sanctions if Turkey resumed its “illegal” energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

In the most recent flare-up of a long-standing dispute last year, Turkey clashed with EU member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions calmed towards the end of 2020.

Despite concerns about the deterioration of the rule of law and a crackdown on political opponents in Turkey following a 2016 failed coup, the EU and Ankara remain major trading partners with shared security interests.

The bloc also cooperates with Turkey to curb immigration.

In 2016 Ankara promised to seal off its borders and take back irregular migrants from the Greek islands in exchange for some 6 billion euros (7.1 billion dollars). (Dpa/NAN)

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