President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey is ready to take its “deserved” place in the EU, adding that its accession could cure the uncertainties the bloc is experiencing in the wake of the UK’s departure.
Speaking on Tuesday, Erdogan told Ankara-based Euopean ambassadors that Turkey is ready to set a “positive agenda” and reduce tension between Ankara and Brussels.
In terms of the future of the union, the acceptance of our full membership to the EU will be an ontological choice. Brexit, with its increasing uncertainty, can only be resolved by Turkey taking its deserved place in the European family.
Referencing disagreements between Turkey and the EU in 2020, notably around hydrocarbon exploration in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus, Erdogan insisted “Turkey is in favor of peace in the Mediterranean.”
The president emphasized that Ankara had not been out of line in 2020, a year in which Turkey was widely condemned by European leaders for its unilateral decision to explore disputed waters for hydrocarbons.
“We are not asking for something that is not our right to the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
“Our nation has the existing hydrocarbon resources in the region and our nation is trying to protect legitimate interests. We object to attempts to confine us to the coasts of our country on maximalist maps that have no validity.”
In 2020, the EU imposed sanctions on several Turkish officials and entities allegedly involved in gas drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean amid Ankara’s disputes with Cyprus and Greece. Despite threatening rhetoric from EU leaders, Brussels elected to postpone a decision on trade tariffs or an arms embargo until March.
Tensions worsened in the latter part of the year as French President Emmanuel Macron began his crackdown on extremist Islam in response to terrorist attacks in France. Erdogan responded by saying Muslims in Europe have been subjected to a “lynch campaign” similar to what the Jews experienced before World War II, and labelling his European counterparts “fascists” for their “hostility towards Islam and Muslims.”
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Greece to resume exploratory talks with Ankara on hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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