French President Emmanuel Macron calls for cooperation and open dialogue to discuss Turkey’s EU membership during his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Paris. France believes Turkey’s future should be in Europe, Macron says.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he is “seriously tired” of waiting for the European Union to decide if it wants his country as a member.
Erdogan, who was in Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron as part of efforts to improve his government’s strained relationship with the EU, said Turkey won’t wait forever.
“Unfortunately, we took the first steps in 1963, and it’s now been 54 years that Turkey has been waiting in the antechamber of the EU,” Erdogan said during a joint news conference with Macron. “We have been seriously tired, my nation, too.”
Adding that frustration might tempt Turkey to turn its back to Europe, Erdogan said, “One cannot permanently implore and wait to be finally included.”
The current process “does not allow for an outcome in the coming years,” Macron said, adding that he thought stringing Turkey along was hypocritical.
Ties between Turkey and EU deteriorated last year after authorities in several member countries prevented Turkish government ministers from holding political rallies to court expatriates’ votes in a referendum to change the governing system from parliamentary to the presidential.
Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community, a precursor to the EU, in 1987.
It became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005. To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
Macron urges open dialogue
Macron called for cooperation and open dialogue to discuss Turkey’s EU membership during Erdogan’s visit to Paris.
He said France believes that Turkey’s future should be in Europe.
The French president also said Turkey and France would continue to fight against terrorism and terror groups such as the PKK and Daesh.
Erdogan arrived in Paris early on Friday for a day-long visit.
During his stay, the Turkish president held a private meeting with his French counterpart at the Elysee Palace.
Economic cooperation, bilateral trade, defence industry, counterterrorism and regional issues are being discussed during the two leaders’ talks as well as ties between Turkey and France.
Anti-missile defence system
Earlier, Turkey’s undersecretariat for defence industries and Franco-Italian company, Eurosam, signed an anti-missile defence system agreement.
The Turkish president said that signing of the defence deal was ‘very important step’.
Turkey’s defence industry and the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium will work together to determine the mutual needs and priorities as well as analysing an air defence system using the SAMP-T system as a base.
SAMP-T (Surface-to-Air Missile Platform) is a long-range, medium altitude air and ballistic missile defence system.
Erdogan was accompanied by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, EU Minister Omer Celik and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli during his one-day visit to France.
Joint fight against terrorism
President Erdogan also spoke about the activities of Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) – the group behind the defeated coup attempt in 2016 that claimed more than 250 lives.
“Sensitivity regarding FETO members is very important,” he said, adding that FETO and PKK members are organising in France.
He also stressed that Turkey and its friends should jointly fight terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG and PKK.
Sending arms to Syria
At the press conference, a journalist asked about the guns and ammunition that were allegedly carried by Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) trucks on the route Syria.
Erdogan said that it was a plot from “FETO prosecutors” and “you are using the same language as FETO members.” He also added that some journalists are hypocrites and not talking about US-arming the YPG which is the affiliation of the PKK, an internationally recognised terrorist organisation.
“You ask me that question but why don’t you ask me why the US sent 4,000 trucks with arms to Syria?”