As European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen head to Turkey on Tuesday for an official visit to improve bilateral ties after tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, an EU official said the visit will provide a framework for the future.
Michel and von der Leyen will present the prospect of key economic and diplomatic gains for Ankara, including more funding for Turkey's hosting of millions of Syrian refugees. Both the EU and Turkey have voiced intent for a positive agenda, yet further efforts and actions are needed.
The bloc stated that the road map for relaunching cooperation – agreed on by EU leaders at a summit last month – depends on Turkey acting “constructively” and continuing to de-escalate tensions over Turkey's gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
An EU official said Tuesday's meeting in Ankara "will not be the moment for negotiations but will provide a framework" on the way forward.
The bloc has been encouraged by conciliatory moves from Ankara over the past few months, including the resumption of talks with Greece over a disputed maritime border and steps to restart U.N. peace efforts for divided Cyprus.
But any steps would be "phased, proportionate and reversible," and if Ankara backtracks then the EU has warned it could slap painful sanctions on the country.
"If Erdoğan does not show himself to be cooperative then everything will be blocked," the official warned.
Convincing Turkey to accept the conditions will not be easy, and he has already pressed the EU to move faster toward "concrete results."
EU members have been split over how to handle Turkey, with the Greek Cypriot administration, Greece and France urging a tough line while others, led by economic powerhouse Germany, want more engagement.
The bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insists the latest offer of cooperation from the bloc's leaders "could be a new chapter in EU-Turkey relations."
"The situation remains fragile, but the EU welcomes these forthcoming developments and gestures on the part of Turkey and has responded by extending its hand," he wrote.
The EU also insists it wants to see Turkey "positively contribute" to solving conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh in which Ankara plays a key role.
Borrell said that in Libya "convergences of interests are slowly starting to appear" after the installation of a transitional government.
Positions, however, appear to be diverging over Cyprus as the U.N. gears up for exploratory talks involving international players Turkey, Greece and Britain in April over relaunching peace efforts.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have been pressing for a two-state solution, while both Brussels and the Greek Cypriot administration want a bi-communal federation.
"The most healthy formula for the Cyprus problem is a peaceful divorce," a Turkish official told Agence France-Presse (AFP). "A two-state solution and the start of meetings on this basis."
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