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European Leaders Confront Erdogan with Human Rights File | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with European Council President Donald Tusk (R) in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Oliver Hoslet/Pool

Ankara- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Thursday with a number of European Union leaders and officials in Brussels where they confronted him with human rights files following ten months of tense relations and disputes.

Turkish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that relations between Turkey and the European Union were discussed in meetings held between Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.

The sources said EU leaders and Erdogan tackled steps that could be taken in the future to improve those relations, in addition to human rights issues and the accord signed with the EU concerning refugees and confronting terrorism.

After meeting with Erdogan, Tusk said: “We discussed the need to cooperate. I put the question of human rights in the center of our discussions with Erdogan.”

Also, a spokeswoman for the Commission said: “The EU and Turkey must and will continue to cooperate. Major issues of common interest were discussed in detail in a good and constructive atmosphere.”

A source at the Turkish presidency said EU leaders affirmed during their talks with Erdogan the need to implement an accord that Turkey had signed with the EU in March 2016, whereby Ankara prevents migrants traveling from its territory to Europe in return for funds to aid refugees stuck in Turkey and visa-free travel to the bloc for Turkish citizens.

The leaders also stressed the “importance to renew relations between the EU and Turkey, and in a separate way, to also enhance cooperation in fighting terrorism.”

The Turkish sources said Erdogan, Tusk and Juncker stressed during their meeting the need to continue implementing the migrants’ accord.