TURKEY WORKING STEADILY FOR FULL EU MEMBERSHIP: ERDOGAN

Dünya Executive - - OVERVIEW -

The Turkish president on May 9 reiterated his vow to gain full membership in the European Union despite countereff­orts.

“Turkey proceeds on its way persistent­ly despite those trying to exclude it from the European family,” Erdogan told the Reform Action Group meeting in the capital Ankara, held to discuss the country’s stalled EU accession process.

Erdogan stressed that Turkey has been struggling to become a full member of the EU for the last 60 years.

“Despite all the double standards we have been facing in our accession negotiatio­ns, Turkey is determined to become a full member of the European Union as a strategic objective,” said Erdogan in a statement on Europe Day.

The EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU, Erdogan stressed.

Without Turkey, it is not possible for the EU to successful­ly fight the threats to its core values, he added.

“EU membership is meaningful in an equation in which both sides gain. Nobody can force Turkey to accept an equation that is harmful,” Erdogan said.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

But negotiatio­ns stalled in 2007 due to objections of the Greek Cypriot administra­tion on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.

Erdogan emphasized that Turkey is continuing to protect its eastern and western borders, not only for national security, but also for Europe’s security, referring to more than 4 million refugees hosted by the country.

Turkey has yet to see how sincere the EU is about visa liberaliza­tion when Turkey fulfills the remaining six criteria out of a total of 72, he said.

In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean

Sea by taking stricter measures against human trafficker­s and improving conditions for nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal also allows for the accelerati­on of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requiremen­ts set by the EU.

Turkey has long complained of the EU being slow to deliver the promised funds for refugees and failing to uphold its end of the deal concerning visa-free travel.

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