President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has said Turkey will walk away from its long-running European Union
membership process if Brussels does not open new accession chapters.
“There is no option other than opening chapters that you have not opened until now. If you open them, great. If you don’t, goodbye,” Erdoğan said in a May 2 speech.
“Turkey is not their [the EU’s] doorman,” he added.
Erdoğan was speaking after officially rejoining the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a member, in the first major change to come into effect following the controversial April 16 referendum on boosting his powers.
He recalled EU demands for Turkey to put an end to its state of emergency, vowing that Ankara
“will not ask for permission” to declare a state of emergency. He also referred to the ongoing state of emergency in France, calling on Brussels to “first lift the state of emergency in France.”
“You will first open chapters, fulfill your promises and then we will sit at the table and discuss. If not, we have nothing left to talk about with you,” Erdoğan said.
Also speaking on May 2, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Ankara
and Brussels could hold a summit following discussions that Erdoğan will hold with EU officials on the sidelines of a NATO
meeting in Brussels on May 24-25.
Relations between Turkey and the EU have tumbled to unprecedented lows since the failed July 2016 coup attempt. The EU says it is troubled by the state of human rights in Turkey, while Turkey has slammed what it sees as a lack of solidarity from the bloc after the coup attempt.
Sixteen chapters have been opened out of a total of 35 since accession talks began in October 2005, although Turkey’s bid to be a part of the bloc dates back to the 1960s.
Some EU states, led by Austria, have suggested that membership talks should be frozen, but EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said on April 28 that talks had not been halted.
Germany has urged its EU peers not to end accession talks despite deep misgivings over Turkey’s rights record, saying the country is key to European interests including as a NATO
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on April 28 that Berlin was “strictly against breaking off the accession talks,” which would be “completely the wrong reaction.”
EU President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker want to meet with Erdoğan when he travels to Brussels for the NATO
summit later this month, despite the growing tensions.