Turkey backs united and strong EU after Brexit

Turkey backs united and strong EU after Brexit

Turkey backs united and strong EU after Brexit

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The United Kingdom’s shocking departure from the European Union should be a lesson for the remaining 27 members of the union, senior Turkish officials have urged, reiterating that Turkey prefers a strong and united Europe, which it wishes to join as an “equal and honorable” member.  

“We are in favor of the continuation of the union by gaining strength. This is an important issue for the peace of Europe and stability of the region. However, the EU should abandon the understanding that alienates itself from other regional countries and seek a more embracing vision,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters June 24. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently warned the EU that Turkey could opt to hold a U.K.-style referendum to ask the public whether it wants to continue negotiations for full membership after the passage of 53 years since the two signed the Ankara Agreement. 

Turkish officials seemed to soften their language against the EU following the surprising Brexit vote as they called on the bloc to change its vision in a more inclusive way. The EU should read the results of the Brexit vote in a careful way and realize the dissatisfaction of the British people, Yıldırım said, advising Brussels to change its future vision accordingly. 

Criticisms against Cameron 

Outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron’s frequent use of Turkey’s unlikely full membership in the EU as an argument to convince British people to remain in the union was also on Yıldırım’s agenda. 

“Cameron, who was giving a date [for Turkey’s membership], was given a date [to step down] by the British people,” Yıldırım said, referring to the British prime minister’s remarks that Turkey would not be able to join the EU for decades. Earlier, he also claimed Turkey should wait until the year 3000 to enter to the EU. 

Yıldırım described Cameron’s statement as “fanciful,” adding that his arguments based on the impossibility of Turkish accession to the EU had been denied by the British people in the vote.

Equal and honorable member of EU

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu emphasized that Turkey’s aim was to join the EU as an equal and honorable member and would not accept second-class membership. 

Blaming the EU for not being able to resolve in-house problems that have created sources of dissatisfaction in many member countries, Çavuşoğlu echoed Yıldırım, saying Turkey was also subject to what he called “double standards.” 

“We have never denied that EU membership is in our interest,” the foreign minister said, adding that Turkey wanted to continue accession talks but without political obstacles. “We are ready to fulfill technical criteria,” he added.

A union of values

In his evaluation of Brexit, EU Minister Ömer Çelik stressed the rise of extreme rightist politics in Europe that accompanied anti-Turkey and Islamophobic feelings as a major problem.   

“Turkey is a European state and in the center of Europe. The values the EU represent are common values of humanity. We are a country that speaks on behalf of Europe. We also have words to say on how Europe will be afterwards,” he said. 

“Turkey needs to be a full member of the EU. Turkey is a key country. The EU needs a fresh injection. The U.K.’s departure has not been good for the continent and the world,” Çelik said.