Turkey-EU relations a ‘win-win’: EU Minister Çelik
Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik has stressed Ankara’s continued determination to pursue full membership of the EU, saying that Turkey-EU relations are not based on “neediness” but a “win-win situation.”
“If full membership is finalized, there will be a win-win situation. Turkey will win and the EU will also win. Turkey’s full membership goal is not a relation of neediness or dependency, it is a relation of ‘win-win,’” Çelik told MPs during debates on the 2018 budget on Dec. 18.
“With regard to our national interests, in order to increase the standards of our democracy and to boost the integration of our economy we will continue to pursue this process in a strong manner,” he said.
Noting that there is a cross-party consensus in parliament in favor of Turkey’s EU membership, Çelik said Ankara will pursue EU membership “in its national interests, as the EU is the closest stable region to our country.”
Following the July 2016 coup attempt, EU institutions have criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) post-coup measures citing various rights violations. The European Parliament in July called for Ankara’s EU accession talks to be suspended.
Having pursued its full membership goal since accession talks started in 2005, the ruling AKP changed its tune following the coup, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasting various European countries and institutions.
“We will not be the side that gives up, but to tell the truth we don’t need EU membership anymore,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 1, 2017, in just one of a series of remarks slamming Brussels.
“If you’re honest, make your statement and we will finish the job. We don’t need you,” he later said on Oct. 13
Çelik’s comments struck a slightly more conciliatory note, describing the European Parliament’s decision as “short-sighted” but underlining Ankara’s determination to pursue its EU membership goal.
“As a democratic institution, the first thing that the European Parliament should have done was to be in solidarity with its colleagues by coming here [after the coup attempt]. But on the contrary it made a short-sighted decision to suspend Turkey’s EU accession talks,” he said, noting that EU officials have criticized Turkey on issues such as “freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of judiciary, security and justice.”
“Our will to share the democratic and economic achievements of this region continues. Full membership of the EU is a state policy and it is a strategic aim,” Çelik added.