Erdogan: Turkiye Never Needed Help, Support From European Union
ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkiye has never needed help or support from the European Union, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an exclusive wide-ranging interview with US media.
When asked whether Turkiye was ready to abandon the process of joining the European Union, Erdogan commented that Istanbul attaches great importance to EU decisions but that it's not wholly reliant on the body.
"If the EU would take such a step forward by making such a decision, we would welcome it," Erdogan was quoted
"Turkiye has been lingering at the doorstep of the EU for the last five decades, and we were always self-sufficient. We never relied on contributions or support we received from the EU, so it's not even necessary for us."
Turkiye signed the Ankara Agreement, or the Agreement Creating an Association Between the Republic of Turkiye and the European Economic Community (EEC, the predecessor of the EU), in 1963 and applied for full membership in 1987.
The negotiations on Turkiye's accession to the EU began in 2005; however, talks stalled over the bloc's concerns about human rights violations in Turkiye.
In an earlier scathing report, the European Commission outlined Turkiye's steps toward membership was on uncertain ground for what officials deemed "serious backsliding in the areas of democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights and the independence of the judiciary."
In turn, Turkiye cited the report as being riddled with "unjust accusations and prejudices." Erdogan subsequently admitted that Turkiye could part ways with the EU.
The exclusive interview also saw the Turkish leader note how Turkiye would not follow the EU's sanctions campaign against Russia, noting how Ankara considers Moscow one of its closest neighbors.
Also raised during talks was Erdogan's belief that the Swedish government is not doing enough to ensure that Ankara ratifies Stockholm's bid for NATO membership, referring to the Nordic country's efforts to mitigate backlash over recent Quran burnings.
"We have repeatedly stated that we were ready to support Sweden's bid to join NATO, but Sweden is supposed to rise up to the occasion and keep their promises, because, on the streets of Stockholm, we still see terrorists wandering around freely," Erdogan said. "Sweden seemingly carried out legislative amendments, but it's not enough."
Amid backlash over multiple Quran burning incidents undertaken in Sweden over the last several months, the Swedish government earlier announced it would launch an inquiry into potentially making legal changes that would bar such behavior. At present, Sweden has no law that ensure an outright ban for Quran burnings, as the act is considered protected by the country's constitution.