Erdoğan, Yıldırım issue statements to mark Europe Day

Erdoğan, Yıldırım issue statements to mark Europe Day

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Erdoğan, Yıldırım issue statements to mark Europe Day

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım have each released statements marking Europe Day, saying the EU needs Turkey’s membership, otherwise it will be “incomplete.”

Europe Day, also known as Schuman Day, is observed on May 9 each year to mark the Schuman Declaration in 1950 that proposed the formation of a European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor to the EU.

In a written statement issued on May 9, Erdoğan said although the EU has become “a model for political integration,” it is destined to remain incomplete until it includes Turkey as a full-fledged member.

“As global uncertainties increase each day in today’s world, the EU is facing serious challenges on global values such as human rights, the rule of law, democracy, equality, and justice—values on which it claims to have been built upon,” he said.

Erdoğan claimed the biggest threat to the future of the union is “posed by Europe itself,” drawing attention to widespread “discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia throughout the continent.”

“Turkey’s full membership, aside from its economic, political and social contributions, will offer the greatest opportunity to the union in its fight against these threats,” he said.

Yıldırım’s message released on May 8 emphasized that the EU cannot spread its founding values without Turkey.

“If the EU wants to spread its founding values in order to have a say globally and establish peace in the world, it cannot achieve it without completing the integration, and therefore without Turkey’s membership,” said Yıldırım.

The Turkish premier added that using xenophobia and Islamophobia for political gains increases concerns for EU’s future.

Pointing out the success of Turkey-EU cooperation on the issue of irregular migration, Yıldırım said this was an example of what could be achieved together.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 while accession talks began in 2005. Negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration, as well as opposition from Germany and France. Turkey’s steps back from its democratization and reform agenda have also frustrated the accession process. 

To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016, member states said no new chapters would be opened.