Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at a joint press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

President Erdogan speaking during a joint news conference following a Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria's Varna.
President Erdogan speaking during a joint news conference following a Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria's Varna. (Reuters)

Turkey's president on Monday said that it would be a "grave mistake" for the European Union (EU) to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.

"It would be a grave mistake for Europe, which claims to be a global force, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy," Erdogan said during a joint news conference of the Turkey-EU summit in Bulgarian city of Varna.

"Our operations against terrorism not only to contribute to the security of ourselves and the Syrians, but also to the security of Europe," he said.

President Erdogan also said he asked the EU to speed up the delivery of the money that was promised to help Turkey deal with the Syrian refugee crisis.

Restoring confidence

“We now expect strong support [from Europe] on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism,” he added.

"I hope that we together have taken the first step of restoring confidence between the EU and us [Turkey] today, but it is not enough to say that we took this step, it has to be taken in concrete terms,” he said.

"We hope that we have left a difficult period in Turkey-EU relations behind," Turkish president said. 

Regarding visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, Erdogan said Ankara had submitted the necessary paperwork to the EU Commission in early February. 

“We told the EU side that its task should be completed as soon as possible,” he added.

Additionally, Erdogan said Ankara was hoping the process to update the customs union with the EU would begin.

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins has more from Varna.

Cyprus dispute

Erdogan also addressed the issue of Cyprus.

"Regardless of the course of the Cyprus issue, the equal involvement of Turkish Cypriots in decision-making on natural resources around the island is in accordance with international law," he said.

Turkey has stood firmly against Greek Cypriot attempts to exploit hydrocarbon reserves around Cyprus, a move that excludes the Turkish Cypriots in the island's breakaway north. 

The Turkish president also called on EU countries for co-operation in establishing stability and welfare in Balkans.

“Let’s deepen our co-operation in international issues, such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Jerusalem, Yemen, Rohingya and Africa,” Erdogan added.

Refugee deal

Speaking also at the joint press conference, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for his part vowed to be a "guarantor" of the continuation of Turkey-EU negotiations.

Juncker also praised the success of Turkey-EU refugee agreement as it showed “visible results.”

In March 2016, EU and Turkey reached an agreement to take stricter measures against human smugglers and discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The summit was held under the leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Council President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Varna, Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov hosted the summit as chairman of the EU Council.

Source: AA