Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the European Union for putting obstacles in the way of Turkey gaining membership and has stated his disappointment over the lack of support from the EU against the country’s fight against terror.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa last week, Erdogan insisted that Turkey “has done everything it needed to do to fulfil criteria for entry into the European Union,” but that “the EU needs to start keeping its promises too”.
Turkey’s history of attempting to gain accession to the EU goes back decades, with it first being a member of the Council of Europe in 1949 and then unsuccessfully applying to become a member of the Union’s predecessor, the European Economic Council (EEC) in 1987. Since then, various obstacles such as new requirements and criteria have been imposed on Turkey’s membership bid.
Many EU members, particularly prominent ones such as Germany, France, and Austria, have expressed their fears over Turkey joining the Union, with the main factors being an increase in the flow of refugees from Asia Minor and concerns regarding Turkey’s human right violations.
Erdogan has called into question the stance of the EU and many of its members regarding Turkey’s fight against terror, or more specifically its campaign against Kurdish militant groups in south-eastern Turkey and north-western Syria. He said he was “disappointed” about the fact that “even though most European states have labelled the PKK as a terrorist organisation, you often see MEPs in the Parliament in Brussels wearing PKK logos. This is unacceptable, such ambiguous behaviour must stop”.
These statements by Erdogan come amidst the recent breakdown of relations between Turkey and the United States, caused by the latter’s support for the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) in northern Syria. Turkey labels the group as a terrorist organisation and is currently leading an offensive against it in Syria’s Afrin province as part of Operation Olive Branch.