Putin and Erdogan discuss preparations for Russia-Turkey-Iran summit in Ankara

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey's intelligence chief would meet an Iraqi official to discuss an Iraqi military operation in Sinjar, a region of Iraq bordering on Turkey, where Ankara says Kurdish militants have established a base.

And a row over Greece and Cyprus that erupted last week has added another point of contention just days before the talks.

Juncker said he was "looking with mixed feelings towards the summit because the differences in views between the European Union and Turkey are many".

Speaking to reporters in the Black Sea resort of Varna on Monday (26 March), European Council president Donald Tusk said no solutions or compromises had been found between Ankara and the EU. "The Varna summit will provide a platform to re-launch the dialogue between the two parties, even though no real breakthrough is expected in concrete terms", said Jana Jabbour, professor of political science at Sciences Po university in Paris and the author of a book on Turkish foreign policy.

But, Hassan said, PKK fighters had actually already withdrawn late past year, after government forces regained control of Sinjar. "We do not accept the position that Bulgaria hosted a meeting between two parties - Europe and Turkey - because Bulgaria is Europe, we are in the EU", Ninova stressed, adding that the country can not be a third party observing the process.

Borissov said that "I think that before the end of our EU presidency (the end of June) another EU-Turkey summit will be held".

"The stand of the Iraqi government on the issue of Turkish forces in Iraq is only empty words for the media".

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"We have zero pressure on our border because of Erdogan".

The EU, however, reaffirmed its continued commitment to the deal that has seen Turkey stem the flow of Syrian refugees to its shores, and Mr Tusk thanked Turkey for hosting more than three million of them.

So far this incentive has not been realised and Erdogan stressed the issue during the talks.

But Sinjar's mayor, Ferhad Hiamd, voiced concerns that Turkey's threats could have a wider goal of strengthening its influence over regionally strategic Sinjar.

Brussels has repeatedly criticised the post coup crackdown which has seen almost 160,000 people arrested, including dozens of journalists.

In contrast to Erdogan's brisk evening meeting with the European Union leadership, Putin - whose relations with the West have nosedived further following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain - is expected to make a full two-day visit to Turkey next week.

Greek diplomacy has been able to put Erdogan's agenda on the tensions in the Aegean, the refugee crisis, Turkey's claims on several Greek islands and the main issue - the release of Greek border guards.

  • Sonia Alvarado