In a recent development that could reshape Turkey's decades-long journey towards European Union (EU) integration, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounded a note of defiance, hinting at a possible severance of ties with the EU.
His comments come in response to the European Parliament's latest report on Turkey, which suggests a pause in accession talks due to various concerns, including violations of human rights and rule of law.
A Long and Winding Road to EU Membership
Turkey's relationship with the EU has been a complex tapestry of negotiations, aspirations, and roadblocks.
Having been a candidate for EU membership for an astounding 24 years, the country's aspirations have been met with numerous challenges. The formal initiation of accession talks began in 2005, with the promise of integrating Turkey into the European family.
However, as of 2018, these negotiations came to a grinding halt, a decision driven by what the European Parliament termed as “democratic backsliding”. The European Parliament's recent report further emphasized this stance.
It asserted that under the prevailing circumstances, Turkey's continuation towards EU accession is not feasible. Instead, it proposed exploring “a parallel and realistic framework” for EU-Turkey relations, implying an alternative mode of engagement.
Erdogan's Strong Response
Erdogan, known for his robust leadership style, did not mince words while addressing this latest development. “The EU is making efforts to sever ties with Turkey,” he announced to reporters before his departure to the 78th U.N.
General Assembly in New York. In a clear and unmistakable message, he added, “We will evaluate the situation, and if needed we will part ways with the EU”. This statement underscores the simmering tensions and the potential reconfiguration of a historically significant relationship.
Erdogan's words resonate with a sentiment of being unduly targeted and misunderstood by the EU. In a further testament to this sentiment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey released a statement, as reported by Reuters, criticizing the European Parliament's report.
The Ministry labeled the report as containing "unfounded accusations" and being "superficial and non-visionary," further escalating the discord.