World News

Turkey sees no "fair attitude" signal from European Union at Varna's summit: PM

Turkey sees no

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday insisted Turkey still wanted to become a member of the European Union ahead of a potentially stormy summit with EU chiefs seeking to fix an increasingly fractured relationship.

The EU, deeply concerned at Turkey's approach to human rights since it brought in a state of emergency now in effect for more than 20 months since the attempted coup in July 2016, did not obtain any pledge from Turkey to free journalists it has jailed or improve other rights for its citizens, nor did it make significant headway over concerns about the Turkish military invention in Syria-but the meeting allowed for the first major talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in nearly year, thus the commitment to continue talking can be taken as something of a breakthrough.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday the European Union should be clear on its stance on Turkey.

"EU membership continues to be our strategic target", Erdogan said.

"We will see concrete steps". Turkey remains an important ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and the fight against Islamic militants, but Erdogan's increasingly bellicose rhetoric towards the West, his cosying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his own brand of nationalistic political Islam has alarmed most of the EU's heads of state.

But he added that "we will have a frank and open debate with President Erdogan". "I hope we have put this hard period [in relations] behind us", Erdogan said at the news conference, adding: "Rather than unfair criticism, we expect robust support ..."

So far this incentive has not been realised and Erdogan is expected to press this point strongly in the talks.

More news: Dow Jones rises 669 points as trade war fears subside

The EU also expressed its objections to Turkey's military ongoing operations in Syria's Afrin region and a standoff over Mediterranean gas with EU members Greece and Cyprus.

"The numbers are just staggering: almost 160,000 people arrested during an 18-month state of emergency; 152,000 civil servants dismissed, many totally arbitrarily; teachers, judges and lawyers dismissed or prosecuted; journalists arrested". Erdogan has used his position as the gatekeeper of Middle East refugees by constantly threatening to withdraw from an agreement with Brussels over the hosting of war refugees in exchange for European Union money.

Ankara has agreed to buy air defence systems from Russian Federation and Moscow will also build Turkey's first nuclear power station.

In February, Turkey deployed warships to stop an Eni-chartered drillship from operating in Cyprus' EEZ.

Analysts were sceptical that given the current tensions there would be any breakthrough at the Bulgarian resort.

"The two presidents discussed preparations for a regular meeting of the top-level Cooperation Council between Russia and Turkey and the second summit of the Astana process guarantor nations - Russia, Turkey and Iran - due to be held in early April in Ankara", the Kremlin said.


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