Officials from Turkey, EU to discuss membership, regional issues
Top officials from Turkey and the European Union are scheduled to meet in Istanbul Tuesday for talks on Turkey's EU membership bid, as well as a range of regional issues, DPA reported.
The EU delegation headed by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton would also include Stefan Fule, the EU enlargement commissioner. They are to meet with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister and Egemen Bagis, the the minister responsible for EU affairs.
"The political dialogue provides for a timely confirmation of Turkey's perspective of EU membership and the continuation of the enlargement process," Fule said in a statement.
"I hope that more chapters could be opened this year, if Turkey meets the necessary conditions," he added.
But high on the agenda is also the issue of how Brussels and Ankara can best coordinate foreign policy activities, particularly regarding the Iranian nuclear issue and in the Western Balkans, where Turkey has become more active.
"Turkey has recently started to become more assertive in its foreign policy. We welcome the increasingly important role of Turkey in the region. In this context we will also look at the ways in which the EU and Turkey can enhance cooperation," Ashton said in a statement.
Ankara, meanwhile, is expected to approach the meeting with some expectations of its own, especially regarding increased help from the EU in fighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The PKK has stepped up its attacks on Turkish forces in recent months and Ankara has asked European countries to be more vigilant about the presence of PKK activists within their borders.
"The EU must extradite the terrorist organization's leaders," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a recent trip to Serbia.