Turkey hopes for further development of relations with EU - Erdogan

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to extend the offensive against Kurdish militants

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to extend the offensive against Kurdish militants

Topic expected to be high on the agenda include the crackdown in Turkey after July 2016's failed coup, Ankara's demands for visa liberalisation and the near-endless saga of the country's own European Union membership bid. Before arriving in Bulgaria, Mr Erdogan insisted "EU membership remains our strategic goal".

The phone call came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday announced the beginning of operations to clear the mountainous area of Iraqi Kurdistan region and Sinjar, some 70 km west of Mosul, of militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), banned as a terror group by Ankara.

Borissov said that "I think that before the end of our EU presidency (the end of June) another EU-Turkey summit will be held".

Despite criticism from European governments by what many see as growing authoritarianism under Erdogan's regime, EU leaders left the door open to Turkey's stalled bid for membership to the bloc but said only Erdogan was capable of removing the obstacles that keep Turkey from furthering its accession.

But Erdogan struck a more optimistic tone, telling reporters: "We hope that we have left a very hard period behind in Turkey-EU relations".

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The main points of discussion were cooperation in energy, security, the fight against terrorism, migration management and the EU's assistance for refugees in Turkey, where European Union and Turkey share strategic interests.

Greek diplomacy has been able to put Erdogan's agenda on the tensions in the Aegean, the refugee crisis, Turkey's claims on several Greek islands and the main issue - the release of Greek border guards.

Juncker and Erdogan however disagreed over the issue of the three billion euros that Brussels agreed to pay to Ankara for humanitarian activities in the Turkish refugee camps.

Turkey objects to "unilateral" gas searches by ethnically divided Cyprus' Greek Cypriot-run government without the direct involvement of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

So far this incentive has not been realised and Erdogan is expected to press this point strongly in the talks.

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The bloc is set to grant Turkey a second 3 billion euro ($3.7 billion) tranche to provide for the Syrians it hosts under a March 2016 deal to take in migrants fleeing the country's war.

Brussels has repeatedly criticised the post coup crackdown which has seen almost 160,000 people arrested, including dozens of journalists.

Turkey, for its part, has accused Brussels of failing to show solidarity after the coup and appears set on forging a strong partnership with President Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation.

European Union leaders offered their full support to Erdogan over the refugee issue but provided little in the way of vocal support for Erdogan's demand that the membership accession process for Turkey should be immediately restarted.

During a visit by Erdogan to Paris earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron said Ankara should settle instead for a looser "partnership" and suggested no more progress was possible in accession talks.

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