European Union expansion without Turkey 'grave mistake': Erdogan

Clay Curtis
March 29, 2018

"It would be a serious mistake for the bloc to push Turkey out of its enlargement politics".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey's intelligence chief would meet Iraqi officials to discuss an Iraqi military operation in Sinjar, a region of north Iraq that is home to the country's Yazidi minority.

All eyes are on Varna, the Bulgarian city where the EU-Turkey summit will take place.

"If you are asking me if we achieved some solutions or compromises - my answer is: no", he added.

Turkey for its part, accuses European Union nations of not backing Ankara's fight against "terror" groups, including outlawed Kurdish militants and a network led by a US-based Muslim cleric, who has been accused of masterminding the coup attempt.

Tusk, referring to the vexed issue of the European Union funding for support for Turkey as that country hosts millions of refugees, said "the European Union and Turkey remain very close partners". Erdogan will seek more money for Syrian refugees, a deeper customs union and progress in talks on letting Turks visit Europe without visas, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said.

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Ninety-two people have been reported killed during protests over Kenyatta's election and there had been fears of further violence. The rights official said that up to 100 police officers beat up journalists and opposition supporters during the confrontation.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc's 28 member states had confidence in the Turkish side "to solve that (the issue of the soldiers) in the best way". "I hope that the prime minister will raise the issue of Turkey's non-interference in our internal affairs... and also the compensation of the Thracian refugees", he said.

The EU-Turkey leaders' meeting will take place on 26 March at the Evksinograd residence in Varna, Bulgaria.

"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 said, expressing his commitment to assist in this process.

"EU membership continues to be our strategic target", Erdogan said. "This is also important in view of our shared objective for the successful reunification of Cyprus for the benefit of both populations on the island, for Turkey, the European Union and for EU-Turkey relations".

At their last EU summit on 22-23 March, EU leaders called on Turkey to respect Cyprus' sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural resources, in line with EU and global law.

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