“Difficult but constructive” – thus the leaders of the European Union and Turkey described their meeting in Varna, which had the goal of assessing issues of common interest and discussing ways to achieve progress in the bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect and common interests. The European Council President Donald Tusk, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part in the talks at “Evksinograd” Residence.


All the topics that concern both Bulgaria and Europe were discussed and I am grateful to all three that we tried to talk about what unites us, Prime Minister Borissov said at a joint press conference. There are also a lot of claims from the Turkish side, but the talks will continue and I hope decisions will be reached, he added, specifying that the issues will be further debated in bilateral committees. According to him, the biggest success is the return to the negotiation table.


We expect that the period of bad relations between Turkey and the EU has remained in the past, said President Erdogan. During the talks, he raised all problems and issues connected to the relations with the EU, with individual member states and in respect to the war in Syria.


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the agreement with the country on tackling the migratory pressure for effectively as it has led to a 87% reduction in refugees to the EU. “There should be no doubt about the EU's three billion euro commitment to Turkey to deal with migratory pressure. The EU's commitment to refugees in Turkey will be upheld,” Juncker said. “We want Turkey to be a real strategic partner for the EU. The Union and Turkey have been making a big mistake by describing the differences that separate us, and not talking about the common things that make us partners - we have common interests and challenges that we have to address,” Juncker said. Among the common topics, he highlighted geostrategic issues related to security and energy supply, but highlighted that Turkey's intervention in Syria should respect the international law. Juncker also opposed the idea of ceasing accession negotiations with Turkey.


European Council President Donald Tusk praised Turkey's efforts in respect to migration and said the EU is committed to supporting its efforts. He noted at the same time that the country should embark on the path of upholding democratic standards. “We understand that Turkey has suffered much from the attempted coup and the subsequent events. We want to encourage Turkey to work with the Council of Europe and not to undermine human rights and the EU remains ready to help in this respect,” said the President of the European Council.


No compromises were made at the meeting, we raised all our concerns, these were quite a few in respect to media freedom in Turkey, relations with EU Member States and Turkey's actions in Syria, Tusk said. Our meeting was devoted to dialogue between the EU and Turkey ... In some areas there are difficulties in our relations but in others our cooperation is good and we want to express our readiness to continue this dialogue, to continue the cooperation and to maintain our partnership, said Donald Tusk.