The EU “27”-Turkey Summit to be held today in Varna/Bulgaria (Bulgaria chairs the EU Council for this semester) will take place under the shadow of ongoing friction between Turkey on one hand and Greece and Cyprus on the other. Last week’s EU “27” Brussels Summit called upon Turkey to terminate “illegal violations” in the Eastern Mediterranean (this refers to Turkish blocking of hydrocarbon exploration by Italian ENI at the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus) and the Aegean (this has to do with a recent incident of a Turkish patrol boat ramming a Greek Coastguard vessel near the Imia islet, the most recent in a series) and to work for “good neighbourly relations”.
Further Greek-Turkish frictions will be also present in the minds of those present in Varna, since Ankara holds two Greek officers that were captured while reportedly having entered Turkish territory in the Evros border area; pressure brought to bear on Turkey by several EU governments has not allowed their freeing.
Still, one should not miss the effectively major issue of Varna: the future of the EU-Turkey agreement over migration flows, which has allowed/pressured Turkey to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants that strained EU-Turkish relations for most of 2015-16 to the breaking point.
Both Bulgarian P.M. Boyko Borisov and EU Council President Donald Tusk have termed the Varna Summit “extremely difficult”. Everybody agreed that communication channels with Ankara should be kept open “at any cost”: Varna will show the effective content of the notion “cost”.