EU high on Ankara’s agenda, Turkey's future in Europe, says Erdoğan

The European Union remains high on Turkey’s agenda and the country sees its future in Europe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday.

Turkey is looking to turn a new page in its relations with the EU in the new year following a hindrance in progress with the bloc in 2020 due to the caprices of some EU member states, the Turkish Presidency cited Erdoğan as saying during a videoconference with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Updating the March 18 agreement could be the most important tool that could be used in the first stage for a positive agenda in Turkey-EU relations, Erdoğan said, referring to the bloc’s refugee agreementwith Turkey signed in 2016.

According to the 2016 deal, the EU promised the allocation of €3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, but the visa restrictions still remain. Furthermore, both parties agreed to “re-energise” Turkey’s EU bid.

Turkey has been an official EU candidate country since 1999 and has maintained a customs union deal with the bloc since January 1996. Accession negotiations formally began in October 2005, however have stalled in the last few years due to what is being called Turkey’s failure to comply with required criteria pertaining to the EU candidacy.

The Turkish president also called for the Customs Union should be updated while visa liberalization is provided to Turkish citizens, according to the statement.

Moreover, exclusivist and discriminatory acts and rhetoric against Turkey should be brought to an end, Erdoğan said.