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News 07 Feb 18

Bulgaria to Host EU Leaders' Meeting With Erdogan

Bulgarian leader Boyko Borissov will a meeting on March 26 in Varna of EU Council president Donald Tusk, Commission president Jean-Claude Junker and the Turkish president – in an attempt to warm soured relations with Ankara.

Martin Dimitrov
BIRN
Sofia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: Anadolu

Bulgaria's Black sea port of Varna will host a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU heads on March 26, hosted by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov – whose country now holds the rotational presidency of the Council of the EU.

The meeting was announced on Twitter on Tuesday by EU Council president Donald Tusk’s office and comes after both EU leaders and Prime Minister Borissov extended invitations to Turkey’s President over the last few days.

The meeting will reportedly try to address frayed EU-Turkey relations and other regional and international issues.

It comes as tension has grown between Turkey and the EU over the controversial referendum in Turkey extending Erdogan's powers and his crackdown on political opponents.

European states have expressed mounting concern over Turkey’s human rights record since the government in Ankara quashed an attempted coup in July 2016, as a result of which Turkey’s EU pre-accession process has been all but frozen.

Turkey now wishes to reinvigorate its stalled EU accession process through modernizing its customs union agreement and potentially restarting the application process.

Ankara is also unhappy with how the EU is living up to its financial obligations under the March 2016 joint statement to tackle irregular migration, following the massive influx of migrants into Europe. This topic will likely surface during the Varna summit as well.

The decision to hold the meeting follows a lunch between Borissov and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on January 20, when it was first alluded to by the Bulgarian Prime Minister, who remains the go-to person when it comes to Turkey-EU relations.

In the past couple of weeks, a diplomatically isolated Erdogan has been reaching out to the EU leadership, visiting French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. 

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