The EU remains committed to the resumption of Cyprus peace talks and is looking forward to the informal meeting set to take place in Geneva later this month, where it will participate as an active observer, European Council President Charles Michel said Tuesday after meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.
The visit by Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen follows an EU summit last month at which the bloc said work could begin on deeper trade ties and on providing more money for refugees in Turkey.
Michel said he shared a frank discussion with the Turkish President on the future of EU-Turkey relations, noting that “the EU's strategic interest remains a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and a mutually beneficial and positive relationship with Turkey."
Michel said the EU welcomes the continuation of bilateral exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey, as well as the forthcoming visit of the Greek Foreign Minister to Turkey.
"As far as Cyprus is concerned, the EU remains committed to resuming the settlement talks, as an active observer. The EU fully supports the UN process and we look forward to the informal meeting in a few weeks," he said.
"We have seen a de-escalation, this is a positive development that needs to be maintained and strengthened," Michel added.
The European Council President said he and Von der Leyen told Erdogan that the EU is ready to put a concrete and positive agenda on the table, based on three pillars: economic cooperation, migration and improved contacts and mobility. Our commitment will be progressive, proportional and reversible.
Michel set the June European Council as a milestone to assess all of the above.
The coming weeks will show the extent to which the EU can cooperate with Turkey, Commission Von der Leyen said in a press release following the meeting with Erdogan. She clarified that the EU would never hesitate to point out further negative developments, especially in relation to unilateral actions against EU member states Greece and Cyprus, and highlighted immigration as the key point of cooperation, calling for immediate resumption of return operations from the Greek islands to Turkey without delay.
Von der Leyen stressed that Turkey has shown interest in gradually resuming cooperation with the EU in a constructive manner, noting that the visit to Turkey was meant to give impetus to this possibility.