While declining to directly respond to criticisms leveled by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against the EU, the European Commission said the comments suggesting that Turkey and other candidates would give up their EU bid and look for other options were “speculative.”
Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the European Commission reiterated that accession talks were underway with Turkey, but he underlined that it is up to candidate countries to enter into any economic relationship they wish as long as it serves to benefit both sides.
The European Union has so far refrained from reacting directly to Erdoğan's statement that Turkey could join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) rather than the EU as the country was tired of waiting for the membership. However, speaking in Prague yesterday, Erdoğan nuanced his words and stressed that his proposal of entering Shanghai was not an alternative to the EU, while continuing to hammer the EU for refusing to speed up accession talks. Erdoğan said EU's stance on Turkey was “unforgiveable.” Since starting accession talks in 2005, Turkey has been able to close only one chapter out of 35. Croatia, another candidate country, which started accession talks on the same day as Turkey is expected to be the 28th member of the EU in July.
Stano, the spokesperson for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Füle, made it clear that they would not comment on what politicians were saying but, reminded that European leaders at their last summit in December reiterated that Turkey was a candidate country engaged in accession talks with the EU.
In a separate statement to TZ, Stano referred to both what the Commission and the Council said in their recent statements regarding the Turkish process. “Active and credible accession negotiations which respect the EU's commitments and established conditionality would enable the EU-Turkey relationship to achieve its full potential,” EU member states underlined in the December summit conclusions.
“It is in the interest of both parties that accession negotiations regain momentum soon, ensuring that the EU remains the benchmark for reforms in Turkey," said the statement. Confirming what the EU said about the process, Stano also stressed that Turkey needed to remain engaged in the process and do its share.