In strongly worded remarks Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed deep disappointment on Wednesday over the way Turkey has been treated by the European Union, calling the treatment “unfair.”
Erdoğan, who visited Abu Dhabi and Riyadh earlier this week, went from the Saudi capital to Jeddah on Tuesday night for talks with Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Speaking at a joint press conference following his talks with İhsanoğlu, Erdoğan was asked whether “Turkey’s attitude towards Arabs, which has recently shifted in a positive direction, would change if Turkey becomes a member of the EU,” the Anatolia news agency reported.
“We have an unchanging principle,” Erdoğan said, quoting a verse from the Quran which says, “Pursue, then, what is exactly right [in every matter of the religion] as you are commanded [by God].”
“We have put forth our stance in the Middle East as a humanitarian position which stems from our own values,” Erdoğan said, in apparent reference to Turkey’s harsh criticism of Israel since last winter when a three-week offensive by Israel in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, most of whom were civilians.
“We made our stance in Georgia clear as well, and we will do the same if such a thing happens in another place in the world,” Erdoğan stated, highlighting that Turkey had defended Georgia’s territorial integrity during its brief war with Russia in the summer of 2008.
“The EU will never change this [stance]. We consider the EU a political club but not a Christian club. There has been no other country that has been kept at the EU’s door for 50 years. The EU has not acted fairly here.”
Shortly after the creation of the European Economic Community in 1958, Turkey made its first application to join in July 1959. On Dec. 17, 2004, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey, and on Oct. 3, 2005, the EU opened accession talks with Ankara, an EU candidate since 1999.
The EU suspended accession talks on eight out of 35 chapters in 2006 due to Turkey’s refusal to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus.