Erdogan says wants EU ties ‘back on track’

Erdogan says wants EU ties ‘back on track’
Turkey and Greece will resume talks aimed at reducing tensions between the neighbors on Jan. 25, Turkish and Greek officials announced Monday, following this summer's dispute over maritime borders and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Erdogan says wants EU ties ‘back on track’

Erdogan says wants EU ties ‘back on track’
  • Turkey’s relations have become especially strained with Greece and European power France
  • But the Turkish leader has softened some of his toughest rhetoric and took a conciliatory tone

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he wanted to improve relations with the European Union and was hoping for the same “goodwill” from the 27-nation bloc.
Erdogan’s comments follow a year of tensions involving Turkey’s more assertive foreign policy in the eastern Mediterranean as well as Libya and parts of the Middle East.
Turkey’s relations have become especially strained with Greece and European power France as a result.
But the Turkish leader has softened some of his toughest rhetoric and took a conciliatory tone in a televised meeting with EU ambassadors in a presidential compound in Ankara.
“We are ready to put our relations back on track,” Erdogan told the ambassadors.
“We expect our European friends to show the same goodwill.”
Turkey and Greece this week agreed to address their long-standing dispute over maritime borders at exploratory talks in Istanbul on January 25.
The meeting will be the first since so-called “exploratory talks” between the two uneasy NATO neighbors were suspended after 60 fruitless rounds stretching 14 years in 2016.
“We believe that the exploratory talks... will be the harbinger of a new era,” Erdogan said.
He also said he was open to better relations with Paris after months of personal feuds with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“We want to save our relations with France from tensions,” Erdogan said.


UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks

UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks
Updated 46 min 1 sec ago

UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks

UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks
  • The foreigners are families of jihadists from the Daesh group

BEIRUT: Twelve murders have taken place at a displaced camp in northeast Syria in just over two weeks, the UN said Thursday, sounding the alarm over an “increasingly untenable” security situation.
Held by Kurdish forces, Al-Hol camp — Syria’s biggest — holds almost 62,000 people, of whom more than 80 percent are women and children, including Syrians, Iraqis and thousands from as far afield as Europe and Asia.
The foreigners are families of jihadists from the Daesh group, which seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The Iraqi and Syrian residents of the camp largely fled subsequent fighting between Daesh and Kurdish forces.
“Between 1 and 16 January, the UN received reports of the murders of 12 Syrian and Iraqi camp residents,” said the UN statement, adding that an Iraqi woman was among those killed.
“The disturbing events indicate an increasingly untenable security environment at Al-Hol,” it added.
The camp had already witnessed several security incidents in recent months, sometimes involving Daesh supporters.
These have included escape attempts and attacks against guards or staff employed by NGOs, sometimes with knives, other times with firearms.
The UN statement published on Thursday said that Imran Riza, its Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, and Muhannad Hadi, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, expressed their “serious concern over the deteriorating security conditions” at the camp.
The two UN officials also stressed the “urgent need for durable solutions to be found for every person living in the camp.”
Since the fall of IS’ self-proclaimed caliphate in March 2019 after a US-backed Kurdish offensive in eastern Syria, Kurdish authorities have repeatedly demanded that countries repatriate women and children.
But most countries, especially European nations, are reluctant to take back their citizens. Some, including France, have brought home a limited number of French jihadists and children.
“The recent rise in violence... jeopardizes the ability for the UN and humanitarian partners to continue to safely deliver critical humanitarian assistance,” the UN statement added.
Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 after the violent repression of protests, quickly spiralling into a multi fronted conflict that pulled in numerous actors, including jihadist groups and foreign powers.