Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has voiced skepticism about Turkey’s long-running EU membership bid, saying membership is “not an existential question” for the country.
“Turkey is not a satellite state or a fake country that can stay within the EU’s orbit while handing over its sovereignty,” Bahçeli told MHP lawmakers in parliament on March 27.
He added that the EU had “completely closed its doors to Turkey.”
“It is an obligation to give the necessary response to the EU while showing a national stance,” said Bahçeli, whose party is in an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Bahçeli’s remarks came after the March 26 Turkey-EU summit between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Varna, Bulgaria.
In a joint news conference after the meeting, Erdoğan said it would be a “grave mistake” for Europe to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.
Bahçeli said the EU has not been frank during negotiations with Turkey.
“Either the path for honorable, equal and esteemed membership is opened, or everyone goes their own way. [Turkey’s EU membership process] could end, it would not be the end of world,” he added.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 while accession talks officially began in 2005.
However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.
To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016 the EU’s member states said no new chapters would be opened.