ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
The head of the European Union delegation to Turkey has said the bloc will “always find a way of cooperating” with Ankara despite the “upside-down history” of the Turkey-EU relationship.
In an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency, Ambassador Christian Berger particularly flagged up a number of key high-level meetings due to take place before the end of the year.
“We have had political problems in the past. [There have] is an upside-down history in the EU-Turkey relationship. But we always find a way of getting out of this and find a proper way of communicating, cooperating for the benefit of both Europe and Turkey,” Berger said.
He added that a number of high-level meetings on energy, transport and economic issues are set to take place by end of November and the first week of December in Brussels, initially planned in a Turkey-EU summit earlier this year.
“Here in Ankara we will have a meeting on counterterrorism and common security issues. The calendar from now until the end of year is pretty full,” Berger said.
The EU and Turkey started membership negotiations in 2005 but the talks have been in a stalemate for years due to the Cyprus problem and the opposition of several EU governments to Ankara’s full membership.
Ankara’s relations with a number of EU member states have suffered further setbacks in recent months, after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called German and Dutch leaders “Nazis.” Turkish leaders also claim their European counterparts did not show enough solidarity with Ankara over the July 2016 coup attempt and allege that they are providing support to groups hostile to Turkey.
Berger touched on the 3 billion-euro ($3.94 billion) deal for the EU to support refugees sheltering in Turkey, which currently hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees in the world.
“Once we have spent the [amount of] money we [will] think about the continuation,” he said.
“We are finishing the contracting of the first three billion by end of this year and we should have signed all contracts with our implementation partners, the government of Turkey, NGOs, U.N. organizations, etc.,” Berger added.
“We will have a meeting in November in Brussels to talk about implementation. By the end this year the first three billion euros should have been completely contracted,” he also said.