Hopes high for Erdogan's Brussels visit after five-year pause

Photo: Hopes high for Erdogan's Brussels visit after five-year pause / Turkey
Expectations are running high for the upcoming visit between Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU officials in Brussels next week Anadolu Agency Reported .

The Brussels meeting, taking place on January 21, will mark the first time in five years that Erdogan has agreed to meet EU officials.

The Prime Minister will hold seperate meetings with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and Head of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, along with a group summit.

Although the meeting is not expected to have concrete gains in the short term, due to the existing problems in bilateral relations, the visit is still deemed important, particularly with regards to the "psychology of the relations."

Contrary to the news circulating in the media, Turkey's incoming EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Mevlut Cavusoglu will come to Brussels together with Prime Minister Erdogan and will stay in Brussels for further talks after Erdogan's visit.

Cavusoglu is also expected to hold talks with members of the EU Commission, as a meeting of "acquaintance and general assessment".

Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, is located on a major route for illegal migration into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Turkey began its negotiations for EU membership in 2005, 18 years after initially applying to join the EU.

However, a series of political obstacles, notably over the divided island of Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership from Germany and France, have slowed its progress.

On December 16, Turkey and the EU signed a readmission in exchange for launching talks on visa liberalization for Turkish citizens.

Hailed by Erdogan as a "milestone in Turkey-EU relations," the readmission deal came one month after the EU and Turkey restarted accession talks following a three-and-a-half-year break.

Talks on the readmission agreement which allows the return of illegal immigrants have been stalled for years, largely due to Turkish distrust over the EU's willingness to ease visa rules.

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