Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey is committed to its goal of full membership in the European Union but that the union is wasting Turkey’s time, local media reported.
Erdoğan’s remarks came on Thursday at a meeting with the ambassadors of EU countries in Ankara.
“Turkey, which is part of the European continent, is fully committed to its full membership goal,” Erdoğan told the ambassadors.
Turkey’s relations with the EU date back to 1963. The country was named a candidate in 1999, and negotiations for full membership started in 2005. The EU has suspended talks with Turkey due to the EU’s unhappiness with what the union has described as a decline of democratic norms in the country.
The Council of the European Union decided at its general secretariat meeting in December that no new chapters will be opened and no current chapters will be closed in the EU’s accession talks with Turkey.
The president said Turkey plays a key role in the overcoming of threats faced by the union, adding that his country is making efforts for the use of dialogue and diplomacy to push forward its EU membership goal.
“I regret to say that we did not see the response we expected from the EU for all the steps we have taken,” Erdoğan said, claiming that only a few countries are acting as the decision-makers of the union.
Erdoğan said more than 4 million Syrians live today in parts of Syria that Turkey has cleansed of terrorist groups.
“If it had not been Turkey, both Turkey and Europe would be faced with a different picture,” he said, adding that the 2016 agreement with the EU needed to be updated.
Turkey and the EU had agreed in 2016 on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. According to the deal, the EU had promised the allocation of 6 billion euros in aid to Turkey to be provided in two installments, which would be used for projects to help migrants.
Despite the deal, Erdoğan has repeatedly criticized EU officials for failing to provide Turkey with sufficient support to ease the country’s huge refugee population of more than 4 million.
Erdoğan was accused in 2020 of using migrants as bargaining chips by pushing them towards the Greek border.