Top EU officials meet President Erdogan in Ankara with high-level talks held on issues including refugee crisis, trade, visa liberalisation as well as revamp of ties.

Turkish President Erdogan meets with EU Council President Michel and EC President Leyen in Ankara, on April 6, 2021.
Turkish President Erdogan meets with EU Council President Michel and EC President Leyen in Ankara, on April 6, 2021. (Reuters)

Turkey has told European Union that Ankara's ultimate goal in EU process is "full membership", as high-level talks between Turkish president and top two EU officials concluded in Ankara.

"Mr. President [Erdogan], while presenting Turkey's perspective on the future relations with the EU, said Turkey's ultimate goal in the EU process is full membership," said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin citing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a statement on Tuesday.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, head of the EU Council, said that they had a positive meeting with Turkish president. 

Both sides discussed issues including the refugee crisis, trade and visa liberalisation as well as human rights.

Erdogan said that EU needs to take concrete steps in the renewal of the customs union and visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals to support the positive agenda.

He said it is important rapidly to update the migrant deal against a new refugee flow that will create instability and a humanitarian crisis.

An effective and joint fight should be carried out against all kinds of terrorist organisations such as Daesh, PKK/YPG and FETO for stability and security, Erdogan added.

Funds for refugees

The European Commission said it will soon make a proposal to Turkey to ensure the flow of funding for refugees, adding that Europe wants "much better relations" with Ankara but that it is "still early."

EU Commission president von der Leyen said Ankara's adherence to a 2016 migrant agreement would be a "major show of goodwill."

"The Commission will soon make a proposal that reflects ... principles" including better opportunities for refugees and a Turkish commitment to prevent irregular departures, she said. "I am very much committed to ensuring the continuity of European funding."

Turkey is the world's largest refugee-hosting country with four million, including over 3.6 million Syrians, according to UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Fresh impetus to Turkish-EU ties

"The EU is ready to present a concrete agenda to strengthen cooperation on the economy and immigration, and inter-societal ties," Charles Michel, head of the EU Council said.

He said the EU recognises the strategic importance of mutually beneficial and positive relations with Turkey and security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

EU Commission's von der Leyen said the visit is meant to give an impetus to Turkish-EU relations, adding that areas of mutually beneficial cooperation were covered during their meeting with President Erdogan.

"We will deal with current hardships in implementation of the Customs Union and eventually work to update it," she added, referring to a 1995 trade deal between Turkey and the bloc.

READ MORE: EU-Turkey refugee deal: Five years on

EU-funded projects

Last week UNFPA-Turkey and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) launched a project to increase the access of refugees with disabilities and their support persons in Turkey to protection services.

The project will be funded by the EU.

According to a research conducted by the UN agency for migration in 2017, one in every 10 refugee households has a member with disabilities.

READ MORE: EU to seek renewal of refugee deal with Turkey

Source: TRTWorld and agencies