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16 April 2014, Wednesday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 

Erdoğan: After 50 years of waiting, Turkey looking for alternatives to EU

3 February 2013, Sunday /TODAY'S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeated on Sunday his criticism of the EU for putting Ankara's membership bid on hold and said Ankara was looking for alternatives to the 27-nation bloc after waiting for five decades to join it.

Erdoğan, speaking to reporters in Ankara before flying to Prague for a visit, also said he was hopeful that members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which he earlier said Turkey might seek to join instead of the EU, would improve their democratic record over time.

“I ask this question concerning the EU: Doesn't a country need to make a decision after it has been kept waiting for 50 years [for membership]?” Erdoğan said, announcing that he will convey the message openly to EU leaders when he visits Brussels soon. “If you are going to do it [let Turkey join], do it, if you are not, say it openly that you are not. … If you insist that we should be the ones to say it out loud, we can consider that, too.”

“We will search for alternatives,” said Erdoğan. He also stated that Germany was in a panic after British Prime Minister David Cameron recently called for a referendum on a redefined relationship with the EU by 2018.

Erdoğan sparked a debate when he said last month that Turkey could drop its membership bid and seek to join the Russian and Chinese-led SCO instead. “When things go wrong in such a way, you, as the prime minister of a country of 75 million, end up looking for other options. That's why I have recently said to Mr. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin: ‘Take us into the Shanghai Five. Take us and we say goodbye to the EU.' What's the point of stalling?” he said in a televised interview, referring to the six-nation organization by its previous name.

On Sunday, Erdoğan claimed that the EU and the SCO are not mutually exclusive alternatives, even though a country may well join one and quit the other if it wants to. He also said even though it was primarily established to focus on border security, the SCO has now become an organization promoting economic cooperation among its members.

And in response to criticism that Turkey's human rights record would deteriorate if it drops its EU bid, Erdoğan said: “They say there is no democracy in the Shanghai countries. Democracy did not come to the EU overnight. And don't forget [what EU nations did in] Rwanda and Algeria. Why did they deport Roma people? Does Islamophobia fit into human rights? I believe the Shanghai countries will further intensify their democratization process.”

Turkey first applied for membership in the EU predecessor European Economic Community (EEC) in 1959 and it formally opened accession talks with the EU in 2005 following a reinvigorated reform drive after Erdoğan first came to power in 2002. The membership process has been stalled since then, however, amid the unresolved Cyprus dispute and opposition from some EU countries to Turkish accession.

 
 
COMMENTS
Finally, someone has had the courage to speak the truth about the hypocrisy of Europes Muslim haters. It would benefit Turkey greatly to join the SCO rather then the corrupt and bloated EU.
Tana
It is revealing to see a man struggling with deep anti-western relexes and the realities of political life. Looks like Turkey's future success is in the hands of someone who clearly detests the people of the EU.
scary
Turkey doesn't need EU, it is otherway round
Raffi
Erdogan just expresses what many Turks feel - disappointment over EU's double standards. But Turkey is not going anywhere and should not leave the negotiation process but work harder to complete it expecting to be succesful. It is now EU that is in a corner, not Turkey
jbenin
Janab Erdogan Sahab SCO is more democratic and more Secular than EU. In SCO there are Muslim,Hindus, Christains, Communists, Budhist,and all. But in EU there are only Christains. It is merely a Christain Club Sir!!!. EU is Secular in Media and SCO is Secular in practice.
Asif Reyaz
PM's motto "I am always right, once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken". Progress we need, but not with those Borat countries.
voice
Cyprus-after 38 years still waiting for justice.
Christoph
Dear Turkey Forget EU membership, look towards building bilateral trading relationship with Africa, Middle East, South America, South East Asia. The abolishing of Visa requirements between the Arab and Muslim world will encourage trade and tourism.
Mohammed
It seems that Erdoğan is indeed serious about his SCO proposal and not just playing the rhetorics card. Even if France would lift its veto on some or all chapters it has been blocking until today, many more obstacles will remain on Turkey's EU path. Public opinion in Europe and in Turkey will stay s...
Dutchman
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