The EU must decide whether it wants to continue on its path with or without Turkey, Erdoğan said, describing the ongoing impasse between Ankara and Brussels as “the end of the game.”
“If the EU wants to admit Turkey as a full member based on an objective assessment, there is no obstacle to that. We are ready. But if they have no intention of admitting us and think they can continue stalling the process through unreasonable demands, they are wrong. They should know that that game is over,” Erdoğan said Oct. 1.
“It’s the EU’s choice whether to continue on its path with or without Turkey. They will make that choice themselves. They should not try to throw this responsibility on our shoulders through their cunning tactics,” he added.
Turkey and the EU have been engaged in longstanding negotiations over visa exemptions to Turkish citizens in return for implementing a readmission agreement as part of a broader agreement between the two to stop the mass flow of refugees through the Aegean Sea. The two sides earlier agreed to put the visa waiver deal into effect in June, before the date was pushed backed to October.
“October is important in terms of our relations with the EU. As you all know, the visa-free regime that the European Union promised to Turkey is supposed to enter into force this month,” Erdoğan said during an address to parliament for the start of the legislative year, claiming that Brussels was attempting to make Turkey compromise “in the fight against terrorism.”
“Let me be clear on this: This attitude is an explicit manifestation of the fact that the European Union does not want to keep its promise to Turkey. Let me be clearer still: Let them decide!” he added.
Turkey criticizes US over ‘inconsistency in Middle East’
Erdoğan also slammed the U.S. for the “inconsistency and disjointedness” of its policies on the Middle East, as one part of the Obama administration continues to insist on allying with Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), an organization that Ankara regards as an associate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“We are making efforts to continue our relations with the U.S. in the spirit of our traditional alliance.
However, we have been witnessing grave signs of inconsistency and disjointedness in U.S. policies in our region, particularly in recent times,” Erdoğan said.
“A section of the U.S. administration insists on working jointly with the PKK/PYD-YPG [People’s Protection Units] terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq, while another section tries to pursue policies that are sympathetic to our sensitivities,” he added.
Ankara believes that the Department of Defense is in favor of continuing cooperation with the PYD, particularly in the upcoming Raqqa operation, while the State Department has urged the administration to be sensitive to Ankara’s concerns.
“This situation is apparently caused by the upcoming presidential elections in the U.S., so we will continue to work to solve this problem without harming the vital interests of our country,” Erdoğan said.
‘Turkey should be at Syria table’
Addressing Turkey’s unilateral Euphrates Shield Operation targeting ISIL and the PYD in northern Syria, Erdoğan stressed that the move had stopped the PYD from linking two of its cantons through a “terrorist corridor” along Turkey’s southern borders.
“The successful continuation of the operation has shown us that if the necessary support is provided, Syria can fight DAESH [an Arabic acronym of ISIL] with its own children. The argument of those who try to use one terrorist organization, the PYD-YPG, to fight against DAESH, has been refuted with the Euphrates Shield Operation,” he said.
“We as Turkey cannot stay away from the table. We have to be at the table,” Erdoğan stressed, recalling that Turkey shares a 911-kilometer border with Syria and a nearly 350-kilometer border with Iraq.
‘Anti-Saudi bill unfortunate’
Another issue that Erdoğan raised in his address to parliament was legislation recently passed by the U.S. Congress, allowing lawsuits to be filed against Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks, describing the legislation as “unfortunate.”
“First of all, this legislation is clearly against the ‘personal nature of criminal responsibility,’ a universal legal principle. We are hoping that this wrong step will soon be taken back, as it has the potential to create a dangerous debate over the sovereign rights of states,” he said.