Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he wants to "prevent the sabotage of Turkey-Europe relations

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Friday, January 14th 2022 à 11:53 | Read 145 times

Surrounded by his ministers, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Europeans to get out of their "strategic myopia" (photo: Presidency of Turkey)
Surrounded by his ministers, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Europeans to get out of their "strategic myopia" (photo: Presidency of Turkey)
TURKEY / EU. Speaking on Thursday 13 January 2022 to the ambassadors of the European Union (EU) Member States in Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the importance of the partnership between Turkey and the European Union. The Turkish president said that his country "is part of the European continent geographically, historically and socially" and that it is "determined to achieve its goal of EU membership", which it has been pursuing for five decades. "Despite all the injustices we have suffered, the EU remains our strategic priority. We are continuing our efforts in this direction," he said.

"With the €9.2 billion in EU funds allocated to our country over the past 20 years, nearly 900 large-scale projects have been completed. All these projects are to our mutual benefit. It is clear that we will serve our common interests if the EU increases the amount of funds allocated to Turkey under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in the coming years," he assures. In September 2021, the Council of the European Union gave its final green light to release €14.2 billion over seven years (2021-2027) to eight countries, including Turkey, to finance their pre-accession. The idea had been discussed since June 2018. The aid will be distributed not by country, but according to thematic priorities. This probably explains why the head of state was keen to point out that a national action plan for EU membership - building on other programmes (human rights, violence against women, judicial reform, financial cooperation, environment...) - covering the period 2021-2023 was committed.

"Getting out of strategic myopia"

Recep Tayyip Erdogan regrets the EU's lack of interest in him. "In addition to high-level summits, we have held dialogue meetings on climate, security, migration and health. I regret to say that we did not get the response we expected from the EU to all these measures we took. In order not to update this positive agenda, including the updating of the Customs Union, delaying tactics have been used against us," he complained.

"As a negotiating country, we are ready to strengthen our cooperation and dialogue with the EU. It is in our common interest to act with a long-term perspective, without prejudice or fear. I particularly expect you to support the opening of a new page in Turkey-EU relations with your advice in Brussels and in your own capitals," Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked the ambassadors present.

He invited them to get out of their "strategic myopia" and to "act courageously" in favour of relations with Turkey. "Despite all the injustices we have faced, the EU remains our strategic priority. Our efforts will continue in this direction," he insisted.

"Fair burden and responsibility sharing" on migration

In his speech, the Turkish president points to "the political, geographical and economic divides within the EU that have become more explicit" since the pandemic crisis. According to him, "this environment has meant that many important issues, which are on the EU's agenda, have been left aside. Unfortunately, the EU has not taken any significant action on many deep-rooted problems, including the establishment of a common migration policy, xenophobia and animosity towards Islam." The head of state cited his country's active role in the migration crisis.

"Any conscientious person will recognise that Syria and Europe would have faced a much different situation today without Turkey's extraordinary efforts. The migration crisis would have worsened, the number of victims would have further increased, terror would have intensified and instability would have spread to a wider geography without our efforts," he says.

Ankara did sign an agreement with Brussels in March 2016 regarding the control of migration flows to Europe, and indeed received €6bn from the EU to help finance the reception of Syrian refugees. But Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also used it as leverage, willingly opening the floodgates to let migrants out when relations with the EU became strained. "Let me repeat here that all we expect from the EU regarding migration management is fair burden and responsibility sharing," he said today.

Erdogan calls on EU countries for "sincere introspection"

The Head of State also raised other sensitive issues with the European ambassadors. According to him, "we must prevent the sabotage of relations between Turkey and Europe under the pretext of solidarity within the Union. To achieve this, some Member States should stop looking for the solution to their problems with Turkey in the corridors of the Union". He is clearly targeting its conflict with Greece fuelled by Turkish exploration manoeuvres in maritime areas claimed by Athens and Nicosi, but also the status of Cyprus. 

"You all know why the negotiation processes that have been going on for more than fifty years for the settlement of the Cyprus question have not been successful. The Greek Cypriots have never been able to get rid of their mentality of considering themselves the sole owners of the island and do not take into account the Turkish Cypriots," he insists. "While acting as a spokesperson for the Greek Cypriot side, the European Union has unfortunately ignored the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, an inseparable part of the same geography. The double standards have already demonstrated to all of us that it is a waste of time to try to "dry today's laundry under yesterday's sun", says Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inviting the EU countries to "engage in a sincere introspection" on this issue.

At the end of July 2021, in front of the parliamentarians of the Turkish part of the Mediterranean island, Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again pleaded for a two-state solution. The UN Security Council has indicated, at a meeting between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in April 2021 in Geneva, that it prefers a bizonal, bicommunal federation offering both communities full guarantees of political equality. Self-proclaimed in November 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is only recognised by Turkey, whose army occupies 38% of the total territory of the island.

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