Erdogan to talk about eastern Mediterranean, other issues with EU ahead of sumit

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he would discuss the eastern Mediterranean and other issues with European Union chiefs in a
video call later in the day, ahead of next week’s summit in which EU leaders will discuss ties with Ankara.

Last year diplomatic tensions flared over a decades-old dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime jurisdiction and energy resources in the Mediterranean. Both have accused each other of illegal actions, while the EU has backed Athens.

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EU leaders had threatened punitive measures against Ankara over its offshore activities. But Reuters reported on Thursday the EU froze plans for further measures against executives at state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).

Erdogan is set to speak with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen later on Friday. He spoke with the German and French leaders earlier this month. The bloc’s summit is from March 25-26.

“By discussing the eastern Mediterranean issue primarily, we will have the opportunity to discuss all our issues once again, from the expectations of Turkey, as a NATO ally, from the EU, to the visa liberalization and Customs Union issues,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

Separately, European leaders criticized Turkey’s move this week to ban a pro-Kurdish political party, the country’s third largest, as undermining democracy.

Ankara and Athens have resumed bilateral talks over the offshore dispute, easing months of tensions, and their foreign ministers are expected to meet in Ankara next month.

Ankara has repeatedly urged the EU to update a 2016 migrant deal under which Turkey has curbed entries into Europe in exchange for EU financial support.

Erdogan’s chief foreign policy advisor, Ibrahim Kalin, said on Friday a revised deal would form the basis for a “new spirit” in Turkey-EU relations. “We hope this will be the outlook of the March 25-26 EU summit,” he said in an article for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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