High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, together with Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will pay an official two day visit to Turkey today December 8th.
“The visit to Turkey together with Commissioners Hahn and Stylianides is a strong indication of the strategic importance of the EU-Turkey relationship and our desire to step up engagement in view of shared interests and common challenges,” Mogherini said ahead of the visit.
The High Representative and Commissioners will hold meetings with the President of the Republic of Turkey, the Prime Minister and other top officials as well as with representatives of the opposition parties, the business community and civil society.
On 9 December, the High Representative and Commissioner Stylianides will also travel to Gaziantep and Kilis, where they will visit a refugee camp and pay tribute to Turkey for its important role in sheltering refugees from the crises in Syria and Iraq.
“I reiterate Europe`s solidarity with Turkey, most notably the host communities who are generously hosting more than 1 million refugees from Syria and Iraq. Europe`s commitment to the victims of these crises remains unwavering. I am going there to assess the needs on the ground with my own eyes and to make sure that our humanitarian assistance continues to bring relief and hope in the most efficient way possible,” Commissioner Stylianides has said.
Commissioner Hahn stressed that “we are committed to moving forward EU-Turkey relations and keeping the accession negotiations on track. However, further reforms are needed to provide solid ground for progress. To achieve this, we need to have an even closer and deeper relationship with Turkey.”
According to an EU press release, this joint visit, early in the mandate of the new European Commission, demonstrates the importance of Turkey for the European Union as a candidate country negotiating accession to the European Union and as a key partner and neighbour considering its strategic location and dynamic economy.
It is also a clear sign of our willingness and determination to step up engagement across the whole range of the EU-Turkey relationship to fully reflect the strategic importance of our relations. In this context, and in particular as regards our integration, common neighbourhood and ongoing crises in the region, the EU is determined to step up its assistance to support Turkey in its commendable efforts in sheltering such high numbers of refugees.