European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel have announced they will visit Turkey on April 6, amid tensions over Ankara’s crackdown on the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The trip to Turkey, where the two EU leaders are set to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was announced by the Commission’s spokesperson via Twitter on Monday afternoon.
Michel had previously touted such a trip after an EU summit on March 25, where bloc leaders had focused on how to improve bilateral relations with Turkey in the wake of its crackdown on the HDP, as well an ongoing dispute over Ankara’s relations with Greece.
The EU and Turkey clashed earlier in March over the Turkish government’s attempts to ban the HDP for its alleged ties to PKK fighters, decrying it as being a violation of “the rights of millions of voters.” Ankara rejected the criticism, telling other nations to “respect” its domestic “judicial process.”
Relations between Brussels and Turkey are also strained over the latter’s long-standing dispute with Greece, centering around Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean region, over which both parties claim territorial rights. The ongoing maritime disagreement has impacted the EU’s migration policy, as Turkey has ceased to abide by a deal with the bloc by refusing to accept the return of migrants from crowded camps in Greece.
These issues are expected to be discussed during the April visit, following a virtual summit between the bloc and Turkey last week, with EU leaders optimistic about re-engaging in high-level discussions with Turkish officials, and Ankara hoping to improve relations with the bloc through renegotiating its migrant agreement with European nations.
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