Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan says that Turkey has not given up its aim of joining the EU and is firmly resolved to speed up the membership process.
In his address to an EU ambassadors’ dinner in Ankara on Monday, Erdogan noted that not one chapter had been opened for negotiations over the past two and a half years. He said that this fact had set a precedent in the EU’s history.
The prime minister added that the delays demonstrated a lack of respect for Turkey despite the fact that his country had made meaningful progress over the past ten years and he deemed the current situation as unacceptable.
Despite having created a certain amount of turmoil around his intimations that Turkey was seriously considering membership of the Shanghai Cooperation (SCO), he said that while his country continues its undertakings on the negotiation process, it also expected significant action from the EU, for example by the opening of new chapters.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey’s membership of the EU would offer a substantial defence against racism and a moderating influence in the political and cultural conflicts between the West and Muslim countries.
The Prime Minister, in a reference to the car bomb blast which killed 14 people and injured many others, said that the incident highlighted Turkey’s understandable sensitivity about terrorism and the continuing conflict in Syria.
Erdogan was emphatic that Turkey would be making no changes in its attitude towards terrorism, nor in its outlook on current events in Syria.
The prime minister reminded everyone that Turkey continues to give refuge to over 170,000 Syrian refugees as increasing violence in Syria pushes its citizens to escape from the war-torn country. Defining the prolonged Syrian conflict as a great human tragedy, Erdogan underscored the point that Turkey is ready to back any constructive move to pave the way for a peaceful transition in the battered country.
Erdogan also regretted the fact that cooperation against terrorism in Europe falls short of expectations. Despite some countries’ serious and sincere efforts, the level of cooperation against terrorism in Europe in general is not what Turkey expects, he noted.