Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a videoconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ankara wants to turn over a new leaf in its relations with the European Union.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold press conference after bilateral meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 24, 2020.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold press conference after bilateral meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 24, 2020. (AA)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discussed bilateral ties and Turkey-EU relations in a videoconference.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions over Turkey's "unilateral actions and provocations" in the eastern Mediterranean, believed to be rich in energy resources which Ankara says is within its sovereign and exclusive rights.

President Erdogan during the meeting said Turkey wants to open a new page in its relations with the EU, and thanked Merkel for her constructive contributions and efforts on Turkey-EU relations." 

Erdogan said there was a new "window of opportunity" for Turkey-EU relations to strengthen but some countries were "trying to create a crisis" that would damage "this positive agenda," it added in a statement.

Erdogan praised the positive developments that took place at the latest EU Summit with the contribution of prudent leaders.

READ MORE: EU member states in paralysis over a common position on Turkey

EU refugee deal

He also called for an update to the 2016 deal aimed at cutting migration to Europe in return for financial aid, which he said would be "the key to a positive agenda."

The EU on Thursday said it allocated to Turkey the full six billion euros promised for refugees in the agreement.

Turkey and the EU had signed a refugee deal in 2016, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly four million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.

Eastern Mediterranean tension

Erdogan reiterated his readiness for exploratory talks with Greece, noting that the Greek side has constantly avoided negotiations by making excuses.

Turkey also continues to demonstrate goodwill and constructive attitude on the eastern Mediterranean issue, Erdogan added.

He also conveyed Christmas and New Year greetings to Merkel.

READ MORE: Turkey: EU should be an honest mediator in Greece row

Threat of sanctions

The EU Summit held earlier this month condemned the partial opening of the town of Maras in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, also known in Greek as Varosha, and argued that UN Security Council resolutions should be respected.

The summit also signaled that the EU may increase pressure on Ankara by adding more individuals from Turkey’s energy sector to a sanctions regime created in November 2019.

Currently only two Turkish Petroleum Corporation executives are subject to these sanctions, which consist of assets freezes and European Union travel bans.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara has sent drill ships in recent months to explore for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

READ MORE: Will the international community find a fair solution in the east Med?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies