President Erdogan says EU expansion without Turkey would be ‘grave mistake’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses during an attempted coup in Istanbul, Turkey July16, 2016. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at a joint press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker at the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Varna.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said it would be a “grave mistake” for Europe to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.

Speaking at a press conference following a Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria’s resort city of Varna, Erdogan said he hoped the phase of bad relations between Turkey and the EU would remain in the past.

The summit was held under the leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Council President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov hosted the summit as chairman of the EU Council.

In the press conference, Erdogan said he discussed with EU leaders the steps necessary to improve EU-Turkey ties, adding that Ankara was hoping the process to update the customs union with the EU would begin.

“It would be a grave mistake for Europe, which claims to be a global force, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy,” Erdogan said.

He also said he asked the EU to speed up the delivery of the money that was promised to help Turkey deal with the Syrian refugee crisis and for more support in Turkey’s fight against terrorism.

“Our operations against terrorism not only contribute to our security and that of the Syrians, but also to the security of Europe,” he said.

“We now expect strong support [from Europe] on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism,” he added.

Cyprus dispute

On an ongoing dispute over hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said the Turkish Cypriots of Cyprus should be included equally in matters regarding the region.

Turkey has stood firmly against Greek Cypriot attempts to exploit hydrocarbon reserves around Cyprus, a move that excludes the Turkish Cypriots in the island’s breakaway north.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Turkey to improve its relations with EU members, particularly Greece and Cyprus, in order to continue making progress on EU accession talks.

Juncker added that he is against the “simple, superficial” idea of cutting Turkey’s accession negotiations to the EU, and vowed to be the guarantor of talks.

Source: AA