Turkey doesn’t need EU anymore, but won’t quit talks: President Erdoğan
“I will say this clearly: We will not end the process, throw in the towel or give up. In fact, we do not need EU membership,” Erdoğan told lawmakers in the Turkish parliament at a ceremony to mark the start of the new legislative term.
“If the EU wishes to take a step forward today, the only way to do that will be by initiating true economic and cultural enlargement through Turkey’s accession,” he said.
Erdoğan noted the patience shown by Turkey since making the first application in 1959 and the signing of the Ankara Agreement in 1963.
“We see that they misunderstand the patience Turkey shows in the process of EU membership,” he stated.
“It’s the EU that would need Turkey.”
“If the European Union is willing to do that, we stand ready. We will be happy to contribute to the future of Europe. If they don’t, it will make no difference to us; we shall continue on our path. We shall maintain this policy, which I believe all parties represented in parliament agree with, until we get a definite answer from the European Union,” he added.
Citing the Brexit process of the U.K., the president warned that the EU could face more challenges in the future.
He blamed some EU countries of falling on deaf ears for the activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) in the continent.
“We are most disappointed by the member states of the European Union with regard to our fight against terrorist organizations,” Erdoğan said.
“We are extremely displeased with the tolerance shown to terrorist organizations by those who quite explicitly oppose Turkey’s accession into the European Union. We say that the PKK is a separatist organization aiming to destroy our state and constantly engaging in terrorist actions to achieve its goal. We say that FETÖ is a treacherous organization which aimed to take over the state.
Two-hundred-and-fifty citizens were martyred as a result of the coup attempt initiated by FETÖ,” Erdoğan added.
Turkey’s 12-year-long accession talks have ground to a halt, with the EU especially critical of Ankara’s crackdown following a failed coup last year.
Erdoğan insisted the state of emergency, which is criticized by the EU, only targeted “terrorist organizations and its members and no one else was harmed by the state of emergency.”
“Today, Europe has become a place where terrorists are free to roam around and organize all kinds of activities against the legitimate government of Turkey,” Erdoğan said.
“Those who knock on our door when their citizens are apprehended in our country for crimes including terrorism do not even bother to process the files we send them for the same purpose. The hypocrisy toward our country by the European Union in every area including chapters and the freedom of movement is so obvious that they can no longer find an excuse to explain it away,” he said.
The president reiterated that Turkey will not turn a blind eye to the independence referendum held in northern Iraq.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to efforts next to our borders aiming to sow the seeds of sedition that will constitute a permanent threat to the Iraqi people and Turkey as well as to other countries in the region,” he said.
Ankara will never allow “any threat against Turkey” over the historic Turkmen city of Kirkuk, which is one of the territories disputed between the central Iraqi government and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and “will call to account” in case of any threat.
Following his speech, Erdoğan held a meeting in parliament with the participations of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Constitutional Court head Zühtü Arslan and Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman.