May 26, 2017 - 12:57 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Senior European Union officials on Thursday, May 25 pressed President Tayyip Erdogan over Turkey's human rights record while he pushed Brussels to deliver on promises of visa-free travel to Europe for Turks, Reuters said.
Erdogan's visit to Brussels, where he was also due to attend a NATO summit, comes at a time of strain in EU-Turkey relations.
The EU has expressed concern over Turkey's sacking and jailing of tens of thousands of soldiers, police, teachers and civil servants since a failed military coup last July. It has also criticized a revamping of Turkey's constitution - backed by a referendum - that greatly expands Erdogan's powers.
Turkey says its crackdown is targeting supporters of a exiled Muslim cleric it blames for the coup attempt. It has also accused the EU of frustrating Ankara's decades-old bid to join the bloc. Talks are now effectively frozen and Erdogan has suggested Turkey might walk away from the EU.
"We discussed the need to cooperate. I put the question of human rights in the center of our discussions with Erdogan," European Council chief Donald Tusk wrote in a tweet following the meeting but gave no further details.
Erdogan posed for photos with Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker but the atmosphere was frosty and they exchanged no words in public, in contrast to the impromptu conversation the EU officials struck up with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier in the day.
Juncker, Tusk and Erdogan met together for 40 minutes, followed by a 30-minute meeting between Juncker and Erdogan, a spokeswoman for the Commission said.
"The EU and Turkey must and will continue to cooperate. Major issues of common interest were discussed in detail in a good and constructive atmosphere," she said.