Addressing the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit, President Erdoğan said: “It is not possible for the EU to achieve its goal of becoming a center of attraction and power without Turkey’s full membership. We want the efforts, which we have patiently and insistently been exerting for full membership for half a century despite all the injustices we have been facing, to come to fruition. We expect the Union to immediately get rid of the strategic blindness it has descended into and proceed with the accession process through a positive agenda.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit of Heads of State and Government in Antalya, Turkey.
Delivering the opening remarks of the summit, President Erdoğan noted that the SEECP was launched in 1996 in a bid to establish an environment of peace, security and stability in South East Europe on a sound basis, and said: “This year marks the 25th foundation anniversary of the Cooperation Process that focuses on good-neighborly relations. On behalf of myself and my nation, I thank all the heads of state and government, ministers and diplomats who have made efforts and contributions for the Process to take its current form. On the path which we embarked on with seven countries initially, we have now become a big family of 13 members in 25 years. Our goal has been to make sure that the countries of the region are able to come together around the same table and make discussions even during times of political crises.”
“Given the developments in the region over the past quarter century, we see that the Process has properly served as a forum of cooperation and dialogue. The SEECP was initiated not only to develop political and security cooperation or to support economic relations,” the President said, adding that it also aims to deepen cooperation in such fields as democracy, justice, and the fight against illegal activities.
“WE WANT OUR EFFORTS FOR FULL MEMBERSHIP TO COME TO FRUITION”
Regional issues and inclusivity are the fundamental values that have marked the 25-year-old history of the Cooperation Process, President Erdoğan underlined. “We have been guided by these principles in all the works carried out during Turkey’s term presidency. We preserve our strong support for the efforts aimed at the region’s integration with Euro Atlantic organizations. The EU’s decision to start membership negotiations with Skopje and Tirana is a step taken in the right direction. However, it is a grave shortcoming that this decision has yet to be put into effect. We hope the Union will maintain its support for Pristina and Sarajevo and will successfully conclude the negotiation process with Belgrade and Podgorica. We, however, cannot reconcile such an artificial distinction as ‘Western Balkans’ and ‘Turkey’ with our shared values.”
Further stressing that it is impossible for the EU to achieve its goal of becoming a center of attraction and power without Turkey’s full membership, President Erdoğan stated: “We want the efforts, which we have patiently and insistently been exerting for full membership for half a century despite all the injustices we have been facing, to come to fruition. We expect the Union to immediately get rid of the strategic blindness it has descended into and proceed with the accession process through a positive agenda.”