Thorny Summit: Turkey, Belarus, China, Migration Among Questions Facing EU Leaders

Tough foreign policy issues, including tensions with Turkey, sanctions against Belarus and relations with China, will be up for discussion at a two-day European Union summit that starts Thursday.This end-of-month summit will be a test on whether the European Union can speak with one voice over thorny issues in its neighborhood and beyond.  The summit was delayed a week after Charles Michel, president of the 27-member European Council, was quarantined for possible coronavirus infection. He has since tested negative. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visit the archeological site of Aptera, on the Greek island of Crete, Sept. 29, 2020.“We strongly support dialogue between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and encourage them to resume discussion of these issues as soon as possible,” Pompeo said.  Reports and analysts suggest the EU is unlikely to impose sanctions against Ankara in the immediate future. Leaders of France and Turkey, whose relations have been particularly strained, recently talked for the first time in months.“Turkey is perhaps the most complex country for the EU to deal with, because it’s a member of NATO so it’s a partner,” Maillard said.Sebastien Maillard heads the Jacques Delors Institute, a Paris-based think-tank on Europe.“It’s also a country with whom we have strong economic links,” Maillard said.”And which is also a country we cooperate on migration…Turkey is also officially a country that wants to join the EU. That’s why it’s a very touchy and difficult issue. Especially in a country like Germany, which hosts a very important Turkish community.”EU leaders will also discuss ways to rebalance trade relations with China, another sticky relationship. The two sides met for a virtual summit earlier in September.Other key issues in the backdrop include the European Commission’s new migration and asylum pact that has sparked criticism from several eastern European countries, and the escalating violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The EU has called for a swift de-escalation of violence there, and warned against outside interference.

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