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Turkey is ready to set a “positive agenda” with the EU: Erdoğan

Turkey is ready to set a “positive agenda” with the EU: Erdoğan

Turkey is ready to set a “positive agenda” with the EU, using a long-term perspective to help get relations with the bloc back on track, the Turkish president said on Tuesday.

Meeting with the ambassadors of EU member states, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expects the envoys to support “turning a new page” in Turkish-EU relations.

“It is in our hands to successfully transform EU-Turkish relations in 2021,” he told the gathering at the official Cankaya Palace in the capital Ankara.

“Just as our country’s nearly 60-year membership process is a strategic choice for us, the EU’s acceptance of our country to full membership will also be an ontological choice for the future of the union.”

Though Turkey first sought EU membership decades ago, it was only in 2005 that it officially became a candidate for full membership, and in recent years the accession process has stalled.

Erdogan highlighted that 2020 was not an easy year for Turkish-EU relations, adding that some EU member countries aimed to resolve the bilateral problems with Turkey “in the halls of the EU.”

“The Turkey-EU agenda has been abused by hiding behind the pretext of unity [and] solidarity,” he said.

Turkish officials have criticized Greek efforts to turn bilateral issues into Turkish-EU issues, stressing Ankara’s willingness to sit at the negotiating table with Athens to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Erdogan also reiterated the need for the EU to tackle the menace of anti-Muslim prejudice in their countries, saying: “In addition to threatening the security of nearly 6 million people living in Europe, Islamophobia is turning into a big black hole in terms of European values.”

The gathering with the president followed a similar meeting Tuesday between Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, with the EU ambassadors.

After a year of ups and downs, Turkish leaders have said they hope for progress in ties with the EU this year, and expect the bloc to take clear steps towards this end.