Erdoğan to EU: Show us good intentions first
REUTERS photoWhen the European Union keeps its promises on visa liberalization for Turks, humanitarian aid and opening new “chapters” in Ankara’s talks to join the bloc, then Turkey will also show good intentions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 1.
“If the EU is ready to put aside its meaningless hostility and double standards against Turkey, we are ready for full membership to the EU,” said the president, adding that Turkey had run out of energy to “chase after” Europe.
“The term of one-sided commitment is over,” Erdoğan added. “If the Europe does its part, then we will stand behind all of our promises. Otherwise, it is their own choice!”
Erdoğan also said Ankara wants to maintain political and economic relations with Russia, Iran, China and Central Asian countries at the “highest level,” but that he did not see good relations with the East as an alternative to the West, and vice versa.
“Neither the European Union nor the European countries that are on the brink of falling into the clutches of racism can exclude Turkey from Europe,” said the president.
“We are not a guest but a host in Europe.”
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Dec. 1 also called on the EU “to make up its mind” on Turkey. “We believe that, despite everything, there are still visionary leaders in Europe who are concerned about the future of Europe,” Yıldırım said at a meeting in Ankara.
“We think that this meaningless decision will not be taken into account in the leaders’ summit to be held on Dec. 15-16. EU must end its confusion as soon as possible. We are saying this as a friend.”
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The March 18 deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.
In a joint statement dated Nov. 29, 2015, the EU and Turkey had confirmed their commitment to re-energize the accession process. Turkey formally applied to become an EU member in 1987, while accession talks began in 2005.
However, almost a year later, on Nov. 24, the European Parliament approved a non-binding motion to freeze EU-membership talks with Turkey, in response to post-coup investigations and recent developments in the country.
The European Parliament decision angered Ankara and President Erdoğan, who warned that they could retaliate by rupturing a migrant deal curbing the flow of refugees to Europe and open the country’s borders to allow refugees into the EU.
The EU leaders will evaluate relations with Turkey at a summit on Dec. 15 and 16.