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Turkey frustrated with stalled EU bid
February 7, 2013, 3:17 pm


“The EU is not a must for Turkey” says the Turkish prime minister. [AP]

Turkey has for nearly a decade pivoted its focus away from Europe toward the Middle East and countries it once occupied as the Ottoman Empire.

It has sought strategic alliances with Iran and Egypt, invested heavily in Iraq, thrown its regional power into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and played a key role in the Syria crisis.

But its bid for EU membership appears to have stalled over the past ten years.

On Thursday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, signaled that Ankara may shrug off failure to join the rest of Europe.

“The EU is not a must for Turkey. It is not the Apocalypse if they do not let us in the EU. We would continue our way in steadiness,” Erdogan said during a press conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Erdogan explained that the process of EU entry originally began in 1963, but has stumbled numerous times.

“The Customs Union in 1996, Helsinki Summit [Turkey was declared an EU candidate country at the Helsinki Summit in 1999] and the start of negotiations. Except for these they keep delaying us. They did not apply these procedures to other countries. This is disrespect,” he said.

Earlier in the week during a visit to Prague, Erdogan said it was unforgivable that Turkey, which formally applied for membership in 2005, had still not been granted entry into the EU.

According to Reuters, Erdogan threatened in October that Turkey will not wait beyond 2023.

Political analysts, such as Daniel Pipes, believe that Turkey’s move to join as a guest member the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – a bloc of Russian, Chinese and Asian nations – should not be seen just as a bluff to egg Europe to agree Ankara’s EU bid.

Meanwhile, Burak Erdenir, deputy undersecretary at the Turkish ministry for EU affairs, has criticised European officials for not providing Ankara with the necessary benchmark criteria that are needed to initiate vital EU accession chapters.

“You can’t ask us to complete benchmarks which were never given to us and then bash Turkey on lacking political reforms – it simply makes no sense,” Erdenir told the media.

Erdogan is expected to raise the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visits Turkey on February 25.

Source: Agencies