Turkish President Erdogan Claims He Wants Improved Relations with EU

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a statement after chairing the cabinet meeting in Ankara, on December 14, 2020. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wants to improve relations between Turkey and the European Union, after years of making repeated threats towards the political bloc and Greece.

President Erdogan has adopted a more conciliatory tone in recent days, stating during a video conference with European Union ambassadors that he wanted to get the relationship between his country and the EU “back on track”.

“We are ready to get the relationship back on track. We expect our European friends to show the same goodwill,” Erdogan said this week, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.

The new tone from the Turkish leader comes just under a year after he opened the gates at the Greek border, which saw tens of thousands of migrants attempt to illegally enter the EU member-state at the land border in the Evros region.

The move had come following years of the Turkish president and members of his government making repeated threats to do so because they were unhappy about lack of visa-free access for Turkish nationals which had formed part of the multi-billion migrant deal negotiated between Turkey and the EU.

Turkish border agents and other Turkish authorities were also accused of directly helping migrants attack the border, and German intelligence even implicated Turkish officials in sparking riots by migrants while disguised among them in plain clothes.

While the Chinese coronavirus pandemic led to the border’s closure in March, tensions between Turkey and Greece increased again last summer when Turkey announced it would be conducting seismic research in territory Greece claims belongs to its maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The launching of the research vessel Oruc Reis led the Greek government to put its armed forces on alert in July. Tensions increased when French President Emmanuel Macron’s government expressed support for Greece and sent the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle to the eastern Mediterranean.

Macron and Erdogan have also come into conflict following the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by a radical Islamic terrorist for showing his students cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed during a class on freedom of expression.

Erdogan called Macron mentally unwell after the French president announced his determination to crack down on political Islam and radical Islamist groups. Erdogan also publicly supported a boycott of French goods following Macron’s move.

Macron has also backed potential sanctions against Turkey and was said to be in favour of dismantling the European Union customs union with the country.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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