EU foreign ministers meet to discuss top issues, including Türkiye

EU foreign ministers meet to discuss top issues, including Türkiye

Foreign Affairs Council to first look at modernizing Customs Union with Türkiye and also difficulties Turkish nationals have getting visas, says foreign policy chief

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

GENEVA (AA) - EU foreign ministers gathered on Thursday to discuss several pressing issues, including Ukraine, Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, relations with Beijing, and Türkiye.

"Turkey is again on the agenda. We will also discuss how do we take our relations with Turkey," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in doorstep remarks ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

He added: "This is the first time that we will discuss about Turkey in many many months."

Citing his talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan last week at a regional meeting in Indonesia, he said Ankara wants to revive its EU accession negotiation and put the European agenda high on their political approach to the bloc.

"That's good news," he said, adding that the EU foreign ministers will have to discuss how to respond to Türkiye’s request.

"We have to look first at the modernization of our Custom Unions and also to the issue of visas," he added, referring to the 1995 Customs Union with Türkiye, which is long overdue for an update, and the problems many Turkish citizens face getting visas from Schengen zone countries.

On other issues slated for the meeting, Borrell said those would include the war in Ukraine and more support for Kyiv, Russia's withdrawal this week from the Black Sea grain deal, the foreign policy dimension of economic security, and reshaping relations with China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend part of the meeting via videoconference, while Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba will join a section where Kyiv's needs will be discussed.

- 'Huge food crisis' looming after Russian withdrawal from grain deal

Borrell also said that Russia had bombed and destroyed port infrastructure in the Ukrainian coastal city of Odesa for a third night and hit grain storage areas.

More than 60,000 tons of grain was burned, he stressed and added: "So not only did they withdraw from the grain agreement (on Monday) ... but they are burning the grain."

"This is going to create a big, a huge food crisis in the world. This grain is not only stocked but destroyed, it means that there will be a shortage of food, of grain in the world," he said, slamming the attacks as "barbarian."

On this issue, he said, the foreign ministers will hear from their Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba about how to continue supporting Ukraine in the long run with security commitments and guarantees, including boosting the resources of the European Peace Facility.

A plan has been presented to ensure financial support for Ukraine, he said and added: "I hope the ministers will support it."

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