Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara could “part ways” with the European Union if necessary when asked about the contents of a European Parliament report on Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that his country could sever ties with the European Union if the bloc continues to distance itself from Ankara. Erdogan’s remarks came after the European Parliament adopted a report on Turkey that criticized its human rights record and called for a new framework for its relations with the EU.
The report, which was approved by 480 votes to 64, with 150 abstentions, on Wednesday, said that Turkey’s accession process with the 27-member bloc cannot resume under current circumstances and urged the EU to explore “a parallel and realistic framework” for its ties with Ankara. The report also expressed concern over the erosion of democracy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms in Turkey, as well as its foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Erdogan, who is set to travel to the United States next week for the UN General Assembly, responded to the report on Saturday, saying that the EU is trying to break away from Turkey. “We will make our evaluations against these developments and if necessary, we can part ways with the EU,” he told reporters in Istanbul.
An Official EU Candidate For 24 Years
Turkey has been an official candidate to join the EU for 24 years, but accession talks have stalled in recent years over the bloc’s concerns about human rights violations and respect for the rule of law. The EU has also imposed sanctions on Turkey over its drilling activities in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, where it is locked in a tense standoff with Greece and Cyprus.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused the EU of double standards and hypocrisy, saying that Turkey has fulfilled its obligations under the 2016 migrant deal, which aimed to stem the flow of refugees and migrants into Europe. He has also threatened to open the gates for millions of refugees to enter Europe if the EU does not provide more financial support and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens.
Despite the strained relations, both sides have expressed their willingness to maintain dialogue and cooperation on areas of mutual interest, such as trade, security, migration, and regional issues. The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Thursday that the bloc wants to have “a positive and constructive relationship” with Turkey, but also expects Ankara to respect its values and principles.
The EU is expected to review its strategy towards Turkey at a summit in October, where it will decide whether to expand or reduce its engagement with Ankara. The outcome of the summit will depend largely on Turkey’s actions in the coming weeks, especially on its respect for human rights and its role in regional conflicts.