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Senior EU official meets Turkish officials, discusses migration

Senior EU official meets Turkish officials, discusses migration

Possible migration flow from Afghanistan following Taliban takeover discussed by EU and Turkey

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The EU’s neighborhood and enlargement commissioner on Tuesday met with Turkish officials to discuss migration and regional issues.

Oliver Varhelyi and Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin met in the capital Ankara, according to a statement from the Turkish Presidency.

During the meeting, the two officials discussed Turkey's EU membership process, updating the 2016 deal on migration, cooperation on migration, humanitarian aid, modernizing the Customs Union, visa liberalization, Cyprus, and Afghanistan.

The strategic importance of Turkish-EU relations was also highlighted at the meeting, and it was emphasized that a positive agenda should be maintained, according to the statement.

Turkey’s expectations that concrete steps will be taken on modernizing the 1995 Customs Union, updating the migration agreement, and visa liberalization were also expressed during the meeting, it added.

During the meeting, Turkish officials stressed that the operation of the High-Level Dialogue mechanism between Turkey and the EU would contribute to a positive agenda, and underlined that the EU should act with a sense of joint responsibility and reduce Turkey's migration burden.

On Cyprus, Turkish officials said a two-state solution for the long-divided island is the fairest solution and that the EU taking a fair, rational, and impartial stance on the issue would contribute to a solution.

On Afghanistan, Turkey and the EU agreed that they should continue their close cooperation to continue diplomatic initiatives to ensure peace and stability in the country and prevent a new wave of migration.

The migration deal was signed on March 18, 2016, as the Syrian civil war continued to uproot millions who then began their "journey of hope" to reach the EU.

The agreement contained six key points: the reinvigoration of Ankara's EU ascension process, modernization of their Customs Union, revival of high-level dialogue, visa liberalization for Turkish nationals, cooperation in managing migration flows, and steps in counter-terrorism.

Turkey has long complained that while it upheld its end of the deal, the EU did not keep its pledges, including on visa liberalization.

Sharing a photo with Kalin on Twitter, Varhelyi said: “Pleased to have had a good and comprehensive discussion on EU-Turkey relations as well as regional developments with @ikalin1 today in Ankara.”

Earlier today, Varhelyi also met with Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and discussed a possible migration wave from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.

“Constructive exchange of views with Minister of Interior @suleymansoylu on bilateral relations, migration, and regional issues,” he wrote on Twitter.

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