Turkey has been negotiating with the European Union to join the bloc for over a decade, and although progress was slowly being made, the attempted coup in 2016 and the subsequent purge of military personnel, judges and civil servants jeopardized Ankara’s plans of becoming an EU member state.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed his government’s continued interest in joining the union on Monday, and said it would be a mistake for the EU to not allow Turkey to join the bloc.
“I hope that we have left a tough period in the relations between Turkey and Europe behind us. It would be a mistake for a Europe that claims to be a global power to keep Turkey outside of expansion policies,” President Erdogan said in a joint press conference after a summit in Varna, Bulgaria.
During the summit, he met with President of the European Council Donald Tusk, head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Erdogan added that “a first step was taken here toward restoring trust with Europe” and described joining the EU as a “strategic goal” for Turkey.
“Our meeting today demonstrated that while our relationship is going through difficult times, in areas where we do cooperate, we cooperate well,” President of the European Council Donald Tusk told reporters.
Tusk said the summit didn’t yield a solution, but expressed his willingness to maintain a dialogue with Turkey on the matter of the country’s accession to the EU.
Although Turkey’s accession to the EU was threatened after Erdogan’s response to the attempted coup, it seems the bloc is continuing talks because of Turkey’s key role in dealing with the migrant crisis.
Turkey and the EU agreed on a deal to tackle the migrant crisis in 2016. The agreement stipulates that migrants who arrive in Greece would be deported to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.