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Erdogan to meet EU chiefs in bid to mend strained ties

The planned meeting on 26 March comes as Turkey's EU membership has stalled. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2018

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The meeting on 26 March comes as Turkey's EU membership has stalled, with Ankara facing recriminations over its crackdown after a coup attempt and its ongoing military offensive in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet top European Union officials next month in the Bulgarian city of Varna in a bid to repair strained ties.

The planned meeting on 26 March comes as Turkey's EU membership has stalled and as Ankara faces recriminations over its crackdown after a coup attempt and its ongoing military offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin.

Erdogan will meet European Council chief Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whose country holds the bloc's presidency, Tusk spokesman Preben Aamann tweeted.

He said the meeting - a working dinner - is "planned for 26 March in Varna, Bulgaria, to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues."

Tusk and Juncker said in an invitation letter that they would bring up issues including the rule of law in Turkey, a controversial subject over which Brussels has criticised Erdogan in the wake of the post-coup clampdown.

"This will be a good opportunity to jointly assess matters of mutual interest and recent developments in your country, including in the area of rule of law and fundamental freedoms," Tusk and Juncker wrote.

They said they would also discuss "regional and international issues", with Turkey's offensive in Syria having caused alarm in EU circles.

They will also discuss how to "move our relationship forward on the basis of mutual respect and common interest", said Tusk, after Turkey's EU accession was put on hold following the coup bid.

More than 140,000 people including judges, lawyers and academics have been sacked or suspended since a failed coup in July 2016, while some 55,000 people have been arrested over suspected links to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen and the coup attempt. 

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