Erdogan Says the Goal is Still EU Membership
Turkey continues to aspire to EU membership asserted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, cited by New Europe.
“Full membership” remains the “strategic goal” Erdogan said ahead of a meeting with EU leaders in Varna, Bulgaria. Turkey gained candidate for accession status in 2005 but has failed to progress significantly over the last 13 years.
The statement comes as the relationship between Brussels and Ankara is at its lowest point for decades. Following a foiled attempted coup in July 2016, Turkey initiated a purge of the public sector, firing or jailing tens of thousands. Among those arrested are journalists, some of whom hold an EU passport.
Ankara demands via-free travel in the EU, which it views as a precondition to sustained cooperation in disrupting refugee flows to Europe.
Meanwhile, President Erdogan also wants to accelerate accession negotiations, would require progress in Cyprus negotiations. In recent weeks, tension has been rising as Turkey does not recognize the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources within its exclusive economic zone.
In October 2017, President Erdogan said Turkey would not be the side to give up on negotiations, although there is no “need” for membership.
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