Turkey says EU ‘incomplete’ without it, eyes better US ties

Turkey says EU ‘incomplete’ without it, eyes better US ties

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara — Turkey on Monday urged the European Union to revive stalled negotiations on Ankara joining the bloc, saying without it Europe was “incomplete” and calling for visa-free travel for its citizens immediately.

“The EU is still a strategic choice for our country,” President said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while insisting Ankara would not blindly accept the EU’s “inconsistent policies and double standards towards our country”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he wanted more chapters in the accession talks to be opened “by lifting artificial obstacles to our EU membership”.

A “chapter” is a specific area of negotiation, ranging on issues from human rights to economic cooperation. Cavusoglu did not specify which chapters he meant.

He also said Turkey expects “visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens to be provided immediately”, a reference to EU commitments on visa-free travel for nearly 80 million Turkish citizens made in March under an EU-Ankara deal to curb migrants entering Europe.

Progress on visa-free travel has been held up by EU demands — rejected outright — that Erdogan amend Turkey’s draconian anti-terror laws to ensure they do not breach human rights.

Erdogan threatened in December to cancel the migrant deal, which has dramatically reduced the numbers crossing into Europe via Greece.

The accession talks stalled after a failed coup in July by a rogue Turkish military faction was followed with a crackdown that saw mass arrests of not only officers but also journalists, activists, academics and others.

“We’ve played an important role in Europe’s past and will do so in the future,” Cavusoglu said, adding: “A Europe without Turkey is incomplete.”

Relations between the EU and the NATO member state have soured in the past year over human rights and freedom of speech issues.

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