EU should take 'concrete steps' on relations with Turkey: Erdoğan
The Turkish president on Nov. 17 urged countries of the European Union to take “concrete steps” to develop ties with Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, and to take a strategic approach on relations with Turkey.
“Work on updating the Customs Union and granting visa exemption should be started as soon as possible,” Erdoğan told a joint news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is in Turkey for an official visit.
“The petty calculations of a few member states should not be allowed to weaken the EU and NATO-EU relations,” he said.
Turkey has displayed its principled attitude and efforts in favor of dialogue and diplomacy to implement a positive agenda, the president stated.
“Henceforth, the European Union should approach its relations with our country from a strategic perspective, and take concrete steps,” he added.
Turkey has been an EU candidate country since 1999, and its accession talks began in 2005, but in recent years its candidacy has been essentially frozen.
He did not name any member states in particular, but in recent years Turkey has accused both Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration of blocking Turkey’s EU bid for political reasons, and of weakening NATO by forming “alliances within the alliance.”
On the issue of irregular migration, he said Turkey and Spain shoulder a major load of guarding Europe’s borders, and reiterated the need for policies to ensure a “fair burden-sharing.”
Turkey and Spain will work to elevate our ties to a “comprehensive partnership,” Erdoğan said.
He said a follow-up mechanism has been set up to monitor the implementation of decisions and the framework for future steps drawn up during Wednesday’s meetings.
Expressing that they agreed with the president of Spain, Erdoğan said: “We aim to build a large aircraft carrier.”
On economic ties, he said bilateral trade between Turkey and Spain quickly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Erdoğan announced that the trade target between the two countries is $20 billion.
“We are pleased with the investments of more than 600 Spanish companies in Turkey. Once again, I repeat our call to our Spanish friends to invest more in their reliable partner, Turkey,” he stated.
Recent statements by Spain’s BBVA bank are also a concrete indication of the trust in Turkey, Erdoğan said, referring to the bank’s bid to buy a majority share in Turkish lender Garanti BBVA.
‘Turkey is an ally for EU’
The Spanish prime minister said his country’s ties with Ankara are at an “extraordinary” level and that Madrid supports Turkey’s bid to join the EU.
“We want Turkey to be a part of the EU. Turkey is not just a neighbor; it is an ally for the EU,” Sanchez said.
Speaking about economic relations, he also pointed to the significant rise in bilateral trade and said the two nations will enhance ties in all fields.
Earlier on Wednesday, Erdoğan welcomed Sanchez with an official ceremony at the presidential complex. Later, they attended the 7th Turkey-Spain Intergovernmental Summit.
The first meeting of the Turkey-Spain Intergovernmental Summit was held in Istanbul in 2009, and the last summit between the two countries was held in Madrid in 2018.