Shanghai not an alternative, but leaving EU an option: Turkish PM
AA PhotoThe Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and European Union are not alternatives to each other, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Feb. 3 at a press conference ahead of his departure to Prague on an official visit.
Yet Erdoğan avoided clarifying if Turkey could prefer being party to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the EU.
He stressed the content of the EU and SCO as different and that it was “weird” to make assessments as if the organizations were alternatives to each other.
Erdoğan raised the issue Jan. 25 of possible membership in the SCO, considering it an alternative to the EU at a time when hopes regarding the EU process are diminishing as a number of EU member states adamantly oppose Turkey’s membership.
“I said to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “You tease us, saying “What [is Turkey] doing in the EU?” Now I tease you: include us in the Shanghai Five, and we will forget about the EU,’” Erdoğan said.
The prime minister’s remarks fueled debates on whether Turkey was moving away from its policy target of EU membership.
Criticizing some columnists’ assessments of the issue, the prime minister stressed that the SCO was established as a security organization and was continuing to cooperate on border security. “The organization continues economic cooperation,” he said, adding that Turkey is a dialogue partner to the SCO.
“On the issue of staying on the track of the EU or not, I’d like to ask you if a country, having awaited for 50 years at the door of the EU, would not be in a decision-making situation in the end?” Erdoğan asked.
The EU was conducting that practice solely for Turkey, he added and urged the EU to be transparent in its intentions for Turkey’s membership.
Erdoğan cited his upcoming visit to Brussels and said he would “openly” discuss this issue during the visit.
“If they expect us to leave the [EU bid], tell us openly. Then we’ll consider it,” he said.
The prime minister cited recent remarks from Britain and said Turkey did not need support from the EU during the economic recession.
“The member states of the EU have not come to this level of democracy in a while,” Erdoğan said in response to statements that SCO member countries were lacking democracy, adding that SCO countries have been progressing on the issue. He further questioned the deportation practices of some EU member states, saying Muslims were targeted in these acts due to Islamophobia.