Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey’s full membership is the “cure for the chronic problems” of the European Union (EU).
Turkey, which applied for bloc membership in 1987, began accession talks with the EU in 2005. But negotiations between the two sides have been practically frozen for years now amid tense mutual relations.
“A Europe without Turkey is only going to face isolation, desperation and civil strife. Turkey does not need Europe. Europe is the one that is in need [of Turkey],” Erdogan said, speaking at an event in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, on Monday.
“A Europe where xenophobia is on the rise and Neo-Nazi parties are so strong that they are coalition partners is going towards its doom,” he said, referring to gains made by a number of far-right parties in recent elections across different parts of the continent.
“A Europe killing its own principles with its own hands would have a dark future.”
Erdogan’s comments come amid high tensionsbetween the EU and Turkey.
Turkish and European officials have been in a war of words, with Ankara accusing members of the EU of supporting “terrorism” and EU politicians alleging a deterioration of democratic and human rights conditions in Turkey.
In September, in a televised debate before Germany’s parliamentary elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Turkey “should not become a member of the EU”.
In a summit last week in Brussels, European leaders asked the EU Commission, the bloc’s executive body, “to reflect on whether to cut and re-orient” the pre-accession support money.
In his remarks, Erdogan urged EU leaders to have “common sense” on issues related to Turkey and in their interactions with Ankara.
“Though they do not want to see it, Turkey and its full membership is the cure for their chronic problems.”
Turkey and the EU have been cooperating on issues such as the refugee crisis, security and Syria’s war – a situation that appears to have made some member states hesitant to cut ties.
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