European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have written to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inviting him to a “leaders’ meeting” in Bulgaria’s main Black Sea city Varna on March 26 2018.
The meeting would be hosted by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, whose currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2018 and which has been pushing for such a top-level meeting between EU leaders and the Turkish president.
In the February 6 letter, Tusk and Juncker noted that at the May 25 2017 leaders’ meeting, “we agreed to structure an open dialogue, at all levels, through a process of engagement in areas of common interest”.
“Intensified exchanges covering the broad spectrum of EU-Turkey relations have taken place since then, including high-level dialogues on transport, economic cooperation, counter-terrorism and foreign policy. Our next exchange on energy is scheduled to take place at the end of February.”
The EU presidents’ letter said that they had embarked on this process on the understanding that it was to be nurtured by concrete steps by Turkey on the domestic front as well as in relations with EU member states.
“Regarding the latter aspect, we welcome your recent efforts to reach out,” the letter said.
The letter proposed a further leaders’ meeting, to be hosted by Borissov as a working dinner in Varna.
“This will be a good opportunity to jointly assess matters of mutual interest and recent developments in your country, including in the area of rule of law and fundamental freedoms, which remain fundamental to the fabric of and prospects for EU-Turkey relations, as well as regional and international issues.
“This occasion will also serve to share our views on how to move our relationship forward, on the basis of mutual respect and common interests,” Juncker and Tusk said.