POLITICS > EU not a must for Turkey: PM Erdoğan

Enis Berberoğlu - Hürriyet PRAGUE / BUDAPEST

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA photo

EU membership is not a must for Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday, in Turkey’s latest criticism of the bloc.

“Turkey continues the EU membership process without slowing down. Since 1963 we kept our patience but they keep delaying the process except three points. The Customs Union in 1996, Helsinki Summit [Turkey was declared an EU candidate country at the Helsinki Summit in 1999] and the start of negotiations. Except for these they keep delaying us. They did not apply these procedures to other countries. This is disrespect,” Erdoğan told reporters yesterday in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

“The EU is not a must for Turkey. It is not the Apocalypse if they do not let us in the EU. We would continue our way in steadiness.”

Commenting on a recent debate on a possible membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the prime minister said they could apply to such organizations at any time. “We would apply to the SCO or Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). No one has the right to ask ‘why do you apply to these?’ Besides, these are not alternatives to each other... We do not underestimate EU membership but it is not a coincidence to talk about the SCO or ASEAN. We keep searching for markets all around the world.”

The Foreign Minister echoed Erdoğan’s words. Turkey is not alone in wanting to improve its relations with the SCO, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a bid to justify recent statements by Turkish leadership.
“As a matter of fact, the EU decided in 2012 to improve its relations with the SCO, and it also emphasized this matter in the duty guideline of its Special Representative for Central Asia,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement that was released in response to a journalist’s question.
As Turkey’s ties with the SCO are not an alternative to relations with the European Union and NATO, having ties with the SCO is not an obstacle to relations with the EU, the ministry spokesperson said.
The foreign ministry noted that Turkey’s application to the SCO to be a dialogue partner was accepted in a meeting of heads of states in 2012.

Elaborating on the positions of Germany and France, the prime minister said the messages are positive. “[French President François] Hollande’s first messages are positive. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also positive in her last meetings. She will be in Turkey Feb. 25. We will raise the bar this time,” the prime minister said.

Erdoğan also criticized the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement over the possible Shanghai membership. “He said since 1071 our goal has been [to head] toward the West but went to China with businessmen. Isn’t China a member of the SCO? If you are uneasy about the membership of the SCO then why did you go to the Great Wall of China?” Erdoğan asked. The Turkish government’s suggestion that it could consider joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a contradictory and bad idea, Kılıçdaroğlu has said.

“The proposal to become a member of the SCO is inconsistent and incorrect. We turned our direction to the West, not to the East,” the CHP leader said Feb. 4 in Portugal, where he is attending a meeting of the Socialist International.
“This is not something new, since 1071 our goal has been [to head] toward the West. We don’t mean geography in saying the West but modernity and civilization,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. The year 1071 marks when the Muslim Turkic army first entered Anatolia by defeating a Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert in eastern Anatolia.
Referring to the European Union, the main opposition leader said: “We see the EU as a modernization project. Every government, independent from its views and the era in which they govern, supports this project.” He also criticized the bloc over its reluctance to embrace Turkey during the negotiation process.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised the issue Jan. 25 of possible membership in the SCO, considering it an alternative to the EU at a time when hopes of eventual membership in the bloc are diminishing amid hostility from a number of the union’s members toward Turkey’s accession.

Presidential system discussable: PM


The ruling Justice and Development Party is ready to discuss the presidential system with other parties in the case of a consensus on a draft constitution, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

“If as the AKP we are going to bring such a [constitutional draft], it would of course also contain the presidential system,” he said. “If we go into a process of developing [the Constitution] of course we would sit and talk on what we could do and what we could not. We do not have a final insistence on the presidential system,” he told a group of reporters during his visit to Prague and Budapest.

Erdoğan also added that any draft submitted by the AKP would bid to transition to a presidential system.

Erdoğan strongly criticized the arguments of presidential system opponents. “Your main opposition says that there is not such a thing as Parliament in the presidential system. Others say ‘Will monarchy come to Turkey?’ Currently [in a parliamentary system], the powers of a Prime Minister or even of a President are superior compared to the presidential system,” he said.


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Notice on comments

Misses Ataturk

2/7/2013 3:19:03 PM

Maybe there is a reason the EU are delaying you Mr E. Because you are taking us backwards when you declare we are going forwards and then enjoy pointing the finger at someone and moaning 'oh they are so disrespectful!!!'

Chris Green

2/7/2013 11:02:17 AM

I think that the various comments made by Turkish governmental ministers recently are paving the way to a unilateral declaration of the ending of Turkey's EU accession bid and this will be a very good thing indeed. At the same time, with moves that are under way in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish Cyprus could well be annexed by mutual agreement by Turkey. With Turkey out of the running for the Eu, the dark-siders (GC's) no longer have a veto and cannot prevent the inevitable end game!

lara ulusoy

2/6/2013 11:44:54 PM

He's a great leader with great values who wants to see a Moslem Turkey take part in the world around it, which frankly, is an extremely difficult job in the middle of racist countries and messed up economies most of which have lost all values a long time ago. It is simply 'fear' of the giant Turkey! Meanwhile, certain Turks unfortunately got lost between Asia and Europe and forgot all about their origins and values, hence the tantrums!!Look at Turkey before and now. EU is falling apart Mike Alex

american american

2/6/2013 8:27:55 PM

i wonder how china will find turkey's stance on 'eastern turkistan' or turkey on china's. up until very recently the pm was vocal about the uighur's plight, likening it to genocide (china asked him to rescind this). turkey doesn't like europe's armenian stance and china doesn't like turkey's uighur stance. it will be interesting to see this play out.


2/6/2013 6:32:17 PM

Whatever the nice rhetorics expressed by several Central European leaders in favour of Turkish EU membership to boost bilateral ties, of course the EU will not accept Turkey for many reasons. It will try and delay the process as much as possible, hoping that Turkey will say farewell. In fact, Europe would sigh a breathe of relief if Turkey did, as many Turks would too. Let us say goodbye to Turkish membership and start a new bilateral relationship. Trade and investment will continue anyway.

Ozgur Erhan

2/6/2013 5:45:42 PM

This kind of talk is dangerous. Turkey has been insulted and doubled-crossed by the EU which seems to prefer tiny Greek Cyprus even though they applied decades later than Turkey -- and stopped an EU commissioner from appearing on TV. But stopping the accession process and losing all that comes with it could be quite easy -- and Turkey would lose in cash terms and politically. It needs to be clever, bide its time, wait -- and may be let a few hundred people of out jail. Bluffs backfire.

Nikos T.

2/6/2013 5:23:45 PM

Erdogan has realized that EU is not a "club". EU will never let an undemocratic country inside. This is just a show to convince people that the rejection is his decision.

andrea dealmagro

2/6/2013 5:07:19 PM

Turks should not take EU delay as personal insult. To me Turkey is a great country. But Western Europe is zealous defending secular system, even more than US. Turkey not only has the Kurd's war and political purges but is perceived as religion having too much political influence. It is not only that you are Muslim but rather too Muslim. Islam is 700 younger than Christianity and has the vigor Christianity had in 1500 . And there is the question of migration which is a hot issue in Europe now.

mike alexander

2/6/2013 4:38:56 PM

The only think I can say is that Mr Erdogan has become so boring latest that nobody pays attention to what he says. He is like the neighbor's bully who nobody wants to play with him and goes around complaying and threatening everyone, while still nobody pays attention to what he says.So he continues in the same tune every day. He really does not realize that if the EU stops doing business with him, he'll be bankrupted in a Month ! SAD State for a PM !

Deniz Arsen

2/6/2013 3:27:38 PM

Not only some Turks think him cool Johanna, half of the country think him cool because he is cool and a great leader. I support his words about joining SCO. I hope soon he would declare in a certain way that Turkey will not join EU at all. As a Turkish citizen I got bored of witnessing the very same scenes since I was a little kid only. Even when I was a kid I was finding it quite insulting, begging at the door of some community which doesn't want you clearly and does its best not to let you in.
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