A high-level meeting between Turkey and the European Union will be held next week, an EU official said on Thursday.
Speaking at a conference in Turkey's northern Samsun province, head of the EU delegation to Turkey Ambassador Christian Berger said a political dialogue between the EU and Turkey will be initiated following the meeting.
Berger said meetings on transportation, energy and economy will be held after the beginning of the political dialogue. Next week's meeting will include discussion on the 3-million-euro fund supporting Turkey's assistance to migrants who take refuge within its borders.
Berger said 72 projects have been carried out within the scope of the funding, adding that, especially in regard to education for Syrian children, Turkey and the EU have the same mindset.
"Syrian children not receiving an education is a big risk for Turkey and the region. In this context, we use the slogan of the United Nations: ‘No lost generation,'" he said. In regard to visa liberation between Turkey and the EU, Berger said a working group set up by the Foreign Ministry is made progress on meeting the criteria, but admitted that the criteria are "very difficult."
"We, too, are waiting for the results of that working group," he said.
In March 2016, Brussels and Ankara reached an agreement to take stricter measures against human trafficking, discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea and improve the living conditions for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The agreement also promised to accelerate Ankara's EU membership process and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals in the Schengen area, provided that Ankara fulfills a list of 72 criteria set by Brussels. However no concrete steps have taken so far to implement the agreement's promises, including the visa-free travel.
Berger added they also expect a presidential-level meeting next year during Romanian presidency of the EU Council.
Turkey and the EU have both signaled moves toward a period of normalization in ties recently.
There have also been positive remarks made by Turkish and some EU officials, who have displayed their willingness to restore ties.
Negotiations between Turkey and the EU for full membership started in 1963; however, 55 years later, a concrete result has yet to be reached. In order to become an EU member, Turkey has to complete discussions on 35 policy chapters and implement some reforms. Yet, in December 2016, EU member states vetoed opening new chapters.
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