Spotlight: Turkey-EU leaders meeting not provided major progress but endorsed dialogue

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-27 22:16:18|Editor: pengying
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ANKARA, March 27 (Xinhua) -- A leaders meeting between European Union and Turkey in Bulgaria's Varna on Monday has not yielded concrete outcome to overcome bilateral problems, but served for keeping dialogue between Ankara and Brussels, local experts commented.

"The meeting has not yielded concrete outcome towards resolving the existing problems. But it was an important step to lay grounds for keeping dialogue and overcoming problems in order to use full potential of relations," according to Guven Ozalp, daily Hurriyet correspondent for Brussels.

"The meeting, at which two sides conveyed their positions and expectations, has not provided a concrete progress but confirmed hope for the future," Ozalp said.

EU and Turkey leaders met in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort with participation of Bulgarian Prime Minister and chairman of the EU, Boyko Borissov, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The EU and Turkey failed to reach any "concrete solutions or compromises" in talks in Varna, EU President Tusk said after the meeting.

"If you are asking me if we achieved some solutions or compromises, my answer is no," Tusk said speaking at a joint press conference.

"What can I say is that I raised all our concerns. As you know, it was a long list including the rule of law and press freedom in Turkey, and Turkey's bilateral relations with member states, also the situation in Syria," he said.

"We reconfirm our readiness to keep up the dialogue and consultations and to work together to overcome current difficulties with a view to unleashing the potential of our partnership," Tusk stated.

He stressed importance for Turkey's good bilateral relations with EU member states and said the EU "stands united behind the Republic of Cyprus regarding its right to explore and exploit its natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone."

He was referring to a drillship that was prevented in February by Turkish warships ostensibly on sea maneuvers from proceeding to a drilling target between the southeastern shores of Cyprus and Lebanon.

Turkish President Erdogan stressed that the equal involvement of Turkish Cypriots in decision-making on natural resources around the island is in accordance with international law.

"We hope that we have left a difficult period in Turkey-EU relations behind," Turkish president said noting that it would be a "grave mistake for Europe, which claims to be a global force, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy."

"I hope that we together have taken the first step of restoring confidence between the EU and us [Turkey] today, but it is not enough to say that we took this step, it has to be taken in concrete terms," Erdogan stated.

Juncker, for his part, vowed to be a "guarantor" of the continuation of Turkey-EU negotiations. He also praised success of a Turkey-EU refugee agreement saying it has showed "visible results."

Relations between Turkey and EU, including some member states such as Germany and Netherlands, have worsened after the Erdogan's crackdown following a failed coup attempt in 2016.

EU leaders in Varna also raised concerns about Turkey's ongoing military operations against Syrian Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

In Varna meeting, the EU officials' perspective was an open indicator that the bloc does not want to discard Turkey from Europe because of its own interests, while once again presenting "home works for Ankara to meet requirements of Copenhagen criteria" in fundamental rights, and wants Ankara to "remain as a western country," Uluc Ozulker, Turkey's former ambassador to the EU said.

The gathering met Turkey's expectations, because although Ankara is not optimistic for resuming accession negotiations with the EU at the moment, at least it wants to keep dialogue with Brussels and the leaders meeting in Varna served in this aim, according to Cagri Erhan, President of the Altinbas University said.

Recalling that some European countries want to end accession talks or initiate to introduce alternative partnership models to Turkey, Ankara wants to avert breakage and aims to perpetuate dialogue with the EU, he said.

This dialogue will bring a "positive environment" for trade relations between Turkey and EU and to financial markets, he noted.