Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on 16 September that Ankara could “part ways” with the EU if necessary, following the release of a European Parliament report rejecting the possibility of Turkiye joining the EU soon.
The report instead suggested the EU explore “a parallel and realistic framework,” such as a customs union, to determine its ties with Ankara.
“The EU is trying to break away from Turkiye,” Erdogan told reporters. “We will make our evaluations against these developments and if necessary, we can part ways with the EU.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the European Parliament report contained unfounded allegations and prejudices and took “a shallow and non-visionary” approach to the country’s ties with the EU.
Visa liberalization, which would give Turkish citizens visa-free travel to the bloc for long periods, is a significant reason Turkiye wishes to join the EU. Many Turkish citizens work in EU states, most notably Germany, and EU membership for Turkiye would free them of the difficult bureaucratic process needed to obtain visas.
The European Parliament report follows renewed Turkish efforts to join the EU. Earlier this summer, President Erdogan sought to link Turkiye’s EU accession to approving Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
However, EU officials balked at linking the two issues, citing human rights abuses and the deterioration of the rule of law in Turkiye under Erdogan.
“We have recently seen a renewed interest from the Turkish government in reviving the EU accession process,” said the lead lawmaker on the file, Spanish Socialist Nacho Sánchez Amor, upon adopting the report on Wednesday.
“This will not happen because of geopolitical bargaining, but only when the Turkish authorities show real interest in stopping the continuing backsliding in fundamental freedoms and rule of law in the country,” Sánchez Amor said.
EU officials accuse Erdogan of stifling the media and imprisoning dissidents, including during a crackdown after a failed coup in 2016, which Erdogan blamed on the Gulen Movement. Turkiye’s occupation of parts of EU-member Cyprus has also led EU officials to criticize Erdogan.
In 2018, the European Council said in a statement that negotiations for Turkiye to join the EU “have come to a standstill.”
Hal Turner Analysis
Erdogan of Turkey keeps trying to burn the candle at both ends between Europe and Russia. He pits one against the other regularly and BOTH sides are growing weary of his antics.