Erdogan and European Union make slow progress at key summit

The EU on Monday said it failed to reach any "concrete solutions or compromises" with Turkey in talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeking to fix their tattered relations.

"We are going to remind them [Tusk and Juncker] once more than Turkey will not tolerate hypocrisy", Erdogan said.

Before arriving in Bulgaria, Mr Erdogan insisted "EU membership remains our strategic goal".

Tusk also made a point of saying that "while our relationship is going through hard times, in areas where we do cooperate, we cooperate well", and Brussels is not about to underestimate Turkey's potential importance in helping to stem the turmoil spreading across the Middle East and in addressing geopolitical difficulties posed in relations with Russian Federation and Iran.

He acknowledged that no concrete compromise or solution had been achieved at the summit, but expressed hope that such would be possible in the future. "As you know, it was a long list including the rule of law and press freedom in Turkey, and Turkey's bilateral relations with member states, also the situation in Syria", he said.

"We reconfirm our readiness to keep up the dialogue and conversation and work together to overcome current difficulties with a view to unleashing the potential of our partnership", Tusk said.

Earlier, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement that 12 PKK militants were killed in Hakurk region of northern Iraq on Tuesday.

"The customs union is a technical question, it should not be influenced by political issues", Erdogan argued.

Brussels leaders cited these geostrategic interests as common ground for greater cooperation with Turkey, despite differences.

Turkish President Tayipp Erdogan said Turkey would do "what is necessary" if the Iraqi operation failed. He added that Turkey meant to continue with its operations as long as necessary.

Erdogan also attacked unnamed "strategic partners" from the European Union who he claimed had funded and armed his enemies in the Syrian region of Afrin, which Turkey and its Syrian allies seized from the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.

"We now expect strong support [from the EU] on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism", Mr Erdogan said.

The EU accounts for about half of Turkish exports.

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".

Turkey has stood firmly against Greek Cypriot attempts to exploit hydrocarbon reserves around Cyprus, a move that excludes the Turkish Cypriots in the island's breakaway north.

  • Joey Payne