Erdogan says Turkey can join Shanghai Pact
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. –