Er­do­gan says Tur­key can join Shang­hai Pact

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PRES­I­DENT Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan says Tur­key should not be “fix­ated” on join­ing the EU and has re­it­er­ated the idea of join­ing Rus­sia and China in a Eurasian se­cu­rity group.

His com­ments come as Tur­key’s decades-long hopes of join­ing the Euro­pean Union have reached a nadir, driven by the af­ter­math of the July 15 botched coup.

“Tur­key should first of all feel re­laxed about the EU and not be fix­ated” about join­ing it, Mr Er­do­gan told Turk­ish jour­nal­ists.

“Some may crit­i­cise me but I ex­press my opin­ion. For ex­am­ple, I say, ‘Why shouldn’t Tur­key be in the Shang­hai 5?’” he said.

The Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (SCO) – also called the Shang­hai Pact – is a loose se­cu­rity and eco­nomic bloc led by Rus­sia and China. Other mem­bers are Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Ta­jik­istan.

Mr Er­do­gan said he had al­ready dis­cussed the idea with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and with Kazakh Pres­i­dent Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev.

Tur­key for­mally ap­plied to be­come an EU mem­ber in 1987 and ac­ces­sion talks only be­gan in 2005, even though Ankara’s as­pi­ra­tions to be­come part of the bloc dates back to the 1960s.

Brus­sels has harshly crit­i­cised Tur­key’s crack­down on al­leged coup plot­ters, urg­ing Ankara to com­ply with rights and free­doms cri­te­ria.

Mr Er­do­gan last week warned the EU to de­cide by year’s end on its mem­ber­ship bid, threat­en­ing to call a ref­er­en­dum on this mat­ter.

Tur­key and the EU agreed to speed up mem­ber­ship talks in March as part of an ac­cord on curb­ing mi­grant flows into Greece.

But the process is on a sharp down­ward spi­ral fol­low­ing the crack­down af­ter the at­tempted coup. –

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