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European Council to ‘hold a strategic discussion on Turkey’

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The leaders of European Union (EU) countries meet in Brussels, Belgium for their two-day Special European Council today (October 1).

On October 1-2, the leaders will discuss foreign affairs, in particular relations with Turkey and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

They are also expected to address relations with China, the situation in Belarus and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. The single market, industrial policy and digital transformation are also on the agenda.

The recent Karabakh clashes between Armenia and Azeribaijan in the Caucasus will also be discussed by the EU leaders.

The summit, initially planned for 24 and 25 September, was postponed as President of the European Council Michel had been in quarantine.

‘Full solidarity with Greece, Cyprus’

In announcing the summit on its official website, the European Council has shared the following background information about the relations with Turkey, especially within the context of Eastern Mediterranean crisis:

“The European Council will hold a strategic discussion on Turkey. During the EU leaders’ video conference of 19 August 2020, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey were raised by some member states. The leaders expressed their concern about the growing tensions and stressed the urgent need to de-escalate.

“The members of the European Council expressed their full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and recalled and reaffirmed previous conclusions on the illegal drilling activities.

“On 15 and 16 September, President Charles Michel travelled to Greece, Cyprus and Malta as part of the preparations for the summit discussions. He also had several phone calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

Emphasis on ‘Turkey’s constructive engagement’

Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, also sent a letter of invitation to the leaders ahead of today’s summit.

Sharing details about the agenda of the summit, Michel has indicated that “the dinner will be entirely devoted to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey” and added:

“Our objective is to create a space for a constructive dialogue with Turkey to achieve stability and security in the whole region, and to ensure full respect for the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all EU Member States. This will only be possible if Turkey engages constructively. All options remain on the table to defend the legitimate interests of the EU and its Member States.”

Letter by Erdoğan to EU leaders

Ahead of the EU summit today and tomorrow, President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter to the EU leaders. Shared with the public by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate, the letter has briefly read:

“Recently, our relations stand in the face of another novel challenge due to the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. With this letter, I would like to lay out our approach towards the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey’s proposals for the solution of problems.

“Our Eastern Mediterranean policy has two main objectives.

“The first one is the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in an equitable, just and fair way in the Eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law and the protection of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our continental shelf. The second one is securing equal rights and interests for Turkish Cypriots over the hydrocarbon resources of the Island of Cyprus, as the co-owners of the Island.

“For this purpose, I would like to emphasize once again that we are ready for dialogue with Greece without any preconditions.

“In this context, I would like to point out that we have supported NATO Secretary General’s initiative for de-confliction among naval and air vessels from the very beginning in order to reduce tension.

“On the other hand, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots should establish a cooperation mechanism, including equitable revenue sharing of hydrocarbon resources, as co-founders of the dissolved Republic of Cyprus and co-owners of the Island.” (PT/SD)

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