EU, Turkey Seek to Mend Relations Amid Disputes Over Sea Borders

EU says summit with Turkey provides no answers to concerns

The denial of the Iraqi military came hours after the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the beginning of operations by Turkish troops to clear the mountainous area of Iraqi Kurdistan region and Sinjar area, some 70 km west of Mosul, from PKK militants.

Meeting at a summit in the Black Sea coastal city of Varna on Monday- which host Bulgaria described as "charged with a great deal of tension", - the European Union vowed to keep funds flowing for a refugee deal with Ankara, but fended off Turkish demands for deeper trade ties and visa-free travel to Europe.

Speaking on this occasion, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised the success of Turkey-EU refugee agreement.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, said it was expected to be "a very hard meeting". "We are now not considering such decisions against Russian Federation", he said on Monday, as quoted by the Daily Sabah.

Erdogan warned at the time that Turkish troops would keep pushing east further into Syrian Kurdish YPG territory (Kurdish "People's Protection Units" which Turkey considers an extension of the terrorist PKK), which would eventually pit his forces against the US armed and trained Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"Our meeting today demonstrated that while our relationship is going through hard times, in areas where we do cooperate, we cooperate well", Tusk said.

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The organization, conduct and themes discussed in Varna, even without Erdogan's specificity, is undoubtedly a great success for the European Union - that was the statement of the commentators in the television media.

"We hope that we have left a hard period in Turkey-EU relations behind", Turkish president said.

The EU largely depends on Turkey to curtail the flow of migrants into Europe but has deep concerns over the state of democracy, human rights and freedoms in Turkey that have taken a turn for the worse after a failed military coup in 2016. It comes after the USA, 16 EU countries, other European states and Canada all expelled diplomats in response to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the United Kingdom on March 4.

Brussels has repeatedly criticised the post-coup crackdown, which has seen almost 160,000 people detained, including dozens of journalists.

On Friday, EU leaders "strongly" condemned Turkey for obstructing exploratory drilling off the coast of Cyprus and the ever more frequent clashes over Greece's territorial waters.

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