PM insists Turkey still wants membership, criticizes EU terror stance

PM insists Turkey still wants membership, criticizes EU terror stance

PM insists Turkey still wants membership, criticizes EU terror stance

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and EU ambassadors gathered in July as the former hosted the fifth Traditional Fast-Breaking Dinner for Foreign Mission Chiefs and Ambassadors. DHA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 11 that Turkey had not given up on its bid for European Union membership, but again hit out at the “politicized” negotiation process.

Speaking after a meeting with EU ambassadors in Ankara, Erdoğan insisted that Turkey was continuing to take the necessary steps to achieving membership and said it was now the EU’s turn to act.

“Turkey has never given up on its European Union targets. There may be some that are expecting [us] to steer away, but it is clear that we are continuing to take determined steps,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister again mentioned that Turkey made its initial application to the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1959, a year after the EEC’s founding, stressing that it had been “made to wait outside the door” for not meeting the criteria.

“Having waited outside the door for 54 years, Turkey was subjected to a negotiation process that no other country had to make,” he said. “A membership process that was supposed to be purely technical was highly politicized.”

Erdoğan also acknowledged that Turkey’s membership process had also been interrupted by its internal problems in the past.

Criticism on cooperation in counterterrorism efforts

“Turkey was subjected to a military coup [on May 27, 1960] a year after its first application. Then there were other coups in 1971, 1980 and 1997. Then there were several economic crises and it lost its prosperity,” he said.

“Separatist terror also interrupted [Turkey’s] democratic steps,” Erdoğan added, before pointing the finger at “external dynamics” that also interrupted the reforms required of Turkey by the EU.

“However, external dynamics, as well as internal dynamics, also played their part. We tried to maintain a sensitive balance between democracy and security, but we were repeatedly criticized by the European Union when we were trying to carry out the reforms,” he said.

“However, it is unacceptable for them not to distance themselves from the terrorist organization [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] while ruthlessly criticizing us. I thank those states and leaders who candidly contribute to our fight against terrorism. But I want to repeat that we want to see the solidarity and cooperation against terrorism in the whole of Europe,” Erdoğan added.

The prime minister recently caused a stir by suggesting that Turkey could consider joining the Shanghai Five group, hinting that this could be a break from the European Union accession talks. However, after the meeting with the EU ambassadors he said that this was simply part of Turkey’s “global vision.”

“Turkey is looking at the world 360 degrees, not only with its economic strength but also with its soft power,” he said.

“We have institutional ties with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations], we have an observer status at the Arab League, we are a strategic partner of the African Union, and we also have ties with the Organization of American States,” Erdoğan said. “Those are not alternatives to European Union. We see them as [factors] strengthening out strategic relations.”

Erdoğan concluded by saying that Turkey aimed to “connect its cities with the world,” citing İzmir’s Expo 2020 and Istanbul’s 2020 bid to host the Olympic Games.