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Cooperation in energy, security, the fight against terrorism and migration management as well as the EU's assistance for refugees in Turkey were on the agenda of the Leaders’ meeting between President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, hosted on 26 March by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
While both sides were frank about their differences, commonalities between the EU and Turkey were emphasised.
"We should be talking about the areas of interest and ambitions that unite us, not the ones that divide us. Turkey and Europe have to move together as only by joining forces we can tackle common challenges," said President Juncker.
"We want Turkey to be a true strategic partner of the European Union”, Juncker added . “And between strategic partners, we must know how to maintain an open and open dialogue at all times in order to deepen what brings us together and to resolve what divides us.”
Juncker underlined the Facility for Refugees in Turkey as the tangible expression of solidarity between Turkey and the EU and of the European solidarity with refugees in the country. These past years Turkey has hosted more than 3 million Syrian refugees. Earlier this month, two years on from the launch of the Facility, the Commission proposed to mobilise the second €3 billion tranche after its first part was fully committed and contracted by the end of 2017.
As strategic partners in many areas, the EU and Turkey will continue to talk with each other, to improve their relations. Turkey committed to improving respect for the rule of law and its relations with the Member States of the European Union. The EU leaders notably emphasised the importance of improving relations with Greece and Cyprus, reaffirming the European Council conclusions of 23 March, which condemned Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea as undermining regional stability and security.
President Tusk also expressed concern regarding Turkey’s actions in Syria, in particular the situation in Afrin, recalling “Turkey’s responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need”.