Turkey wants Britain to stay in EU ‘under any circumstances’

Turkey wants Britain to stay in EU ‘under any circumstances’

ANKARA – Agence France Presse
Turkey wants Britain to stay in EU ‘under any circumstances’

AFP photo

Turkey on June 22 strongly backed Britain staying in the European Union, a day ahead of the referendum on its membership of the bloc.

“We want Britain to stay in the European Union under any circumstances,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Ankara during a press conference with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu.  

London has traditionally been a strong supporter of Ankara’s long-stalled bid to join the bloc. But Turkey’s possible future membership has emerged as a major theme in the British referendum campaign.

Supporters of Britain’s exit from the European Union have argued that the country risks being swamped by millions of Turks in the future if it remains a member and Turkey joined.

British Prime Minister David Cameron countered that Turkish membership was not “remotely on the cards” and may not happen until the year 3000.

“We desire Britain to stay in the EU,” said Çavuşoğlu. 

“Britain’s exit would certainly have a negative impact.”

But he also warned the EU would weaken if it failed to “renew itself, correct wrong policies and produce solutions to problems faced by European people... and stand strong against negative trends like racism and xenophobia.”

He said EU efforts on such issues would be “only half done” if it excluded Turkey. 

“The EU should not be scared of a strong Turkey, and instead it should cooperate with a strong Turkey.” 

After applying in 1987, Turkey began EU accession talks in 2005 but its membership bid had been held up by an array of political barriers.