New European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was to meet Turkish leaders Dec. 8 for talks expected to focus partly on the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in neighboring Syria.
“The Syrian crisis is going to be one of the key issues on her agenda,” an EU official told AFP on Dec. 8. Turkey’s EU membership ambitions were also up for discussion.
EU capitals are concerned about spillover from Syria and the possibility of terrorist attacks by the growing number of European nationals returning home after fighting alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey is under pressure to stem the flow of ISIL recruits across its borders, which have become a major gateway between Europe and ISIL controlled territory.
Mogherini, travelling with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides, was to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara.
Former Italian foreign minister Mogherini, who took up the post of EU diplomatic chief on November 1, was also to visit refugee camps on Turkey’s southern border Dec. 9.
“This joint visit, early in the mandate of the new European Commission, demonstrates the importance of Turkey … as a candidate country negotiating accession to the European Union and as a key partner and neighbor considering its strategic location and dynamic economy,” the EU said in a statement.
“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.”