BordersCharles MichelCustoms UnionEU-TurkeyEuropeForeign policyHuman RightsMigrationPoliticsRecep Tayyip ErdoganRightsRule of LawTradeTurkeyTurkish politicsUrsula von der Leyen

Von der Leyen and Michel to visit Turkey next week – POLITICO

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan next week.

The pair will travel to Turkey on April 6, Michel’s spokesman Barend Leyts said Monday. The trip comes after EU leaders last week agreed to relaunch cooperation with Ankara on migration and trade, albeit in a “phased, proportionate and reversible” manner.

Relations between the EU and Turkey, a candidate for membership, had become increasingly strained in recent years as the Turkish government stepped up its crackdown on freedoms, sent ships into waters internationally recognized as belonging to Cyprus and Greece, became embroiled in rows with various EU governments and issued threats — eventually realized last year — to open its borders and let migrants cross freely into the bloc.

In recent months, however, Erdoğan has opted for a softer tone, promising a domestic “reform agenda” on human rights and freedoms. Tensions between Turkey and Greece have been easing as well.

At last week’s EU summit, leaders decided to look at ways to keep alive the 2016 migration pact with Turkey and “work on a mandate” to modernize the bloc’s customs union with Ankara. The latter has been a key Turkish demand for years.

In Turkey, meanwhile, the government’s crackdown is gathering speed, prompting NGO Human Rights Watch to warn last week that Erdoğan was “dismantling human rights protections and democratic norms … on a scale unprecedented in the 18 years he has been in office.”

Earlier this month, Erdoğan removed Turkey from the Istanbul Convention — a Council of Europe treaty aimed at protecting women from violence — by presidential decree, sparking protests that are ongoing. At the same time, state prosecutors have taken steps toward banning the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, currently the third-largest group in parliament.



Due Credit: Efogator.com

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