EU membership remains Turkey’s strategic priority: Erdoğan
Despite all the injustices Turkey is facing from the European Union, joining the 27-member club remains to be its strategic priority, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, calling on EU envoys to lead their countries to open a new page on Turkey-EU ties.
“Despite all the injustices we face, the [full membership in] European Union remains our strategic priority. As a matter of fact, we continue to strive in this direction,” Erdoğan said at a meeting with EU ambassadors on Jan. 13 in the Turkish capital.
Erdoğan recalled that he has been observing all the stages of the full membership process of Turkey in the past 20 years as the prime minister and the president, including hypocrisy, injustice and fabricated political obstacles.
“We hope that the European Union will get rid of strategic shortsightedness in 2022 and act more boldly in developing relations with Turkey,” he suggested.
“As a candidate country, we are ready to strengthen our cooperation and dialogue with the EU. It is in our common interest to act with a long-term strategic perspective rather than prejudices or fears,” Erdoğan underlined.
The formal negotiations started between Turkey and the EU for the
former’s joining the 27-member club in 2005, but the process has de facto been suspended by Brussels due to the applicant country’s inability to fulfill the required membership criteria. Turkey says it is a political decision and calls on the EU to adopt a more adequate and honest approach towards Ankara.
Turkey and the EU had started the process of former’s joining the 27-member club in 2005, but Brussels suspended the process due to the applicant country’s inability to fulfill the required membership criteria. Turkey says it is a political decision and calls on the EU to adopt a more adequate and honest approach towards Ankara.
Erdoğan criticized the EU for delaying talks over the modernization of the customs union and the visa liberalization for the Turkish nationals, expressing his hope that progress can be made on these issues in 2022. “We did not see the response we expected from the EU to all the steps we took,” he said, recalling Turkey-EU cooperation is key for the entire region.
Some countries within the EU have interrupted the improvement of the ties between Turkey and the EU, Erdoğan said, accusing Greece and Greek Cyprus of trying to sabotage Ankara-Brussels engagement.
“The EU should not sacrifice its ties with Turkey in the name of solidarity,” he stated.
EU ignored Turkish Cypriots’ rights
The Cyprus question, which could not have been resolved due to Greek Cyprus’ ambitions since the 1960s, remains to be an obstacle before the Turkey-EU relationship, Erdoğan stressed, criticizing Brussels for ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
“The EU should fulfill the promises it had given to the Turkish Cypriots in 2004,” he said, referring to Brussels’ word to launch direct trade with the northern part of the island, which approved the Annan Plan.
“It is time for the EU to make a sincere self-criticism. If the EU really wants to contribute to the solution, it should fulfill the commitments it made in 2004, recognize the existence and will of the Turkish Cypriots, and evaluate the solution proposal presented in Geneva. Otherwise, it will be seen as a new distraction, especially a tactic, and will mean nothing but a waste of time and energy,” Erdoğan warned.
Turkey’s key role in migration
Those who can look at the issues through an objective lens will realize Turkey’s key role in overcoming many of the threats the EU is facing, Erdoğan said, recalling how new migration inflows towards the European continent have been stopped thanks to the Turkish efforts.
“Without Turkey’s extraordinary efforts, Syria and Europe would have faced a different landscape. The self-sacrificing efforts of Turkey prevented the picture from deepening,” he stated.
“Turkey could not get support from the EU in its fight against the migration crisis. We implemented the resettlement projects that the EU could not handle ourselves,” he added.
Erdoğan explained that Turkey’s efforts in Syria’s Idlib province stopped a new migration influx towards its borders and Europe, repeating Turkey’s calls for more economic and political support from the EU.
“Our expectation from the EU regarding migration consists of fair burden and responsibility sharing,” he noted.
Erdoğan stressed that Turkey’s military operations into northeastern Syria prevented terrorist organization PKK/YPG from establishing a terror corridor on the southern borders of the country. Erdoğan also asked the EU to stop the inhuman and unlawful pushbacks of migrants, which are being carried out by Greece in the Aegean Sea.