Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stresses Ankara's determination to boost relations with the European Union in a video talk with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a video call he hopes for a summit with European Union leaders in the first half of 2021 to ease tensions.
The two leaders also discussed issues that would improve cooperation between the two countries, according to a statement by Turkey's Communications Directorate on Monday.
In the video talk, stressing Turkey's determination to boost relations with the EU, Erdogan said Turkey wishes to intensify contacts and have technical talks with the bloc in the period ahead of an EU summit planned to be held in March.
Erdogan also reiterated his expectation on a Turkey-EU summit to be held before the Portugal's presidency of the EU Council ends.
READ MORE: Turkey-EU ties: there's more that unites than divides them
President @RTErdogan held a video conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.— Republic of Turkey Directorate of Communications (@Communications) February 8, 2021
Steps aimed at further enhancing the cooperation between Turkey and Germany were discussed, and Turkey-EU relations as well as regional issues were addressed. https://t.co/XflcwgcfFG pic.twitter.com/GnLnACrlNq
Call for a refugee deal update
Highlighting that the EU's fair and constructive approach to Turkey would benefit both sides, Erdogan reiterated his call for updating a refugee deal inked on March 18, 2016.
The 2016 agreement aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improve the conditions of nearly 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.
But the relations between the EU and Turkey strained over gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean last year.
EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration have increased their pressure on other EU members to impose sanctions on Turkey during the EU leaders' summit on December 11.
Brussels said last month that "credible gestures" from Erdogan are needed to patch things up.
READ MORE: Turkey will be a part of new world order: ex-German chancellor
Ahead of a new leaders' summit on March 25-26, Erdogan told Merkel on Monday that he hoped for "a positive agenda" in Turkey-EU relations.
In its own statement, Merkel's office said she had welcomed "recent positive signals and developments in the eastern Mediterranean."
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent several drill ships in the past months to explore for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favour of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighbourly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.
READ MORE: EU member states in paralysis over a common position on Turkey