Varna summit marks no progress in EU-Turkey relations

The 26 March summit in Varna, Bulgaria, between EU leaders and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, ended without any concrete results. The leaders' meeting highlighted existing divergences, but also specific points of interest that each side has in relation to the other.

European Council President Donald Tusk and Bulgarian Premier Boyko Borissov emphasized Turkey's role in curbing migration to Europe, but Erdogan insisted that EU pays an additional €3 billion on top of €3billion already provided, although this tranche is conditioned by Turkey's implementation of the March 2016 agreement with EU on migration. Syria and the rule of law were further bones of contention, and Erdogan defended Turkey's domestic and abroad actions while accusing his adversaries in the EU of harbouring terrorists. Under this term, however, Erdogan, designates followers of Fethullah Gülen or independence-aspiring Kurds as adversaries and terrorists. A noticeable feature of the meeting was Erdogan's backtracking on his threat that Turkey forwent its EU accession objective. Erdogan used this occasion to advocate for liberalisation of the visa regime, and Turkey's accession to EU, a goal presently unachievable due to the French and German opposition. The approach is unsurprising considering that EU is by far Turkey's largest trading partner, and accounts for two-thirds of the foreign investment. 

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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