6th Dec 2022

Turkey threatens to turn its back on EU

  • Mr Erdogan says it would not mean "the end of the world" to Ankara if Turkey were forced to stay out of the EU (Photo: European Commission)

Turkey challenged the EU over the weekend saying that any new condition put to the country will make it go its "own way" and end its bid to become an EU member.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that it would not mean "the end of the world" to the country if it were forced to stay out of the EU by new conditions it could not accept.

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Turkish daily Zaman quoted Mr Erdogan at a conference in Italy over the weekend as saying that "if the promises are not kept, then we will name the Copenhagen criteria as Ankara criteria and continue our own way".

The "Copenhagen criteria" are political criteria formulated by the EU in 1993 that make new states eligible for EU membership.

Rows flared up at the end of last week at a foreign ministers meeting, as France, Greece and Cyprus demanded steps by Ankara towards recognition of EU member state Cyprus.

Mr Erdogan also stated on Saturday that he was confident that entry talks would start on 3 October, as scheduled. "I do not see a negative attitude. We will start negotiations on October 3", he said.

The Turkish leader appeared to be reiterating statements made earlier by Abdullah Gul, the country’s foreign minister.

Mr Gul had told the Economist on Friday "Should [the EU] place anything short of full membership, or any new conditions, we will walk away. And this time it will be for good".

He was referring to suggestions floated in Germany, Austria and France that a loose "partnership" between Brussels and Ankara should be considered as an alternative to fully-fledged EU membership for the Turks.

In the run-up to the foreign ministers’ meeting, Austria had demanded that a "partnership" be explicitly mentioned in the negotiating framework as one possible outcome of the talks.

But the Austrians found themselves completely isolated in their demand.

"It is one against 24", the Austrian foreign minister had to concede, according to Austrian paper Die Presse.

However, Vienna is hoping a change in government in Germany will turn the tide.

German conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel, who according to polls is likely to win the German elections on 18 September, is against full Turkish membership and is promoting a "privileged partnership" with Ankara.

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