Addressing EU countries’ ambassadors to Ankara, President Erdoğan said: “Just as our country’s 60-year long admission process is a strategic choice for us, the EU accepting Turkey as a full member will be an ontological choice in terms of the future of the Union. The uncertainty that has heightened with Brexit will be dissipated with Turkey taking its rightful place in the European family.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with the European Union (EU) countries’ ambassadors to Ankara at Çankaya Presidential Palace.
President Erdoğan delivered a speech at the meeting. Stating that the world was faced with many difficulties in 2020, particularly the coronavirus pandemic, President Erdoğan drew attention to the importance of global solidarity and cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, and said that while Turkey has worked to provide the best medical service to its citizens, it has also delivered medical supplies to 156 countries, including European countries, and 11 international organizations.
We have brought over 100 thousand citizens of ours back to our country on our emergency evacuation flights while evacuating over 5500 foreigners from 67 countries, President Erdoğan noted, and added: “We have sent 38 thousand foreigners from 90 countries, who wanted to return to their homelands from Turkey. We have done all this not because we expected a material reward in return from our counterparts, but because we felt it was our responsibility to humanity. We as a nation that believes in the power of solidarity and abundance in sharing will continue our assistance activities in the period ahead.”
“WE DO NOT DEMAND ANYTHING THAT IS NOT OUR RIGHT IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN”
2020 was unfortunately not an easy year in terms of Turkey-EU relations, President Erdoğan underscored, and said: “In the period we left behind, we had to deal with many unpleasant issues most of which were artificially created. Some member states sought to resolve their bilateral problems with Turkey in the EU corridors. The Turkey-EU agenda was exploited under the pretext of the union solidarity. This approach not only takes hostage our long-standing ties but also undermines the union’s projection to be a regional and global power. The Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus issues stand out as the most visible example of this attitude, which we describe as strategic blindness. Turkey has faced severe injustice regarding both of the issues. Turkey, however, is the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.”
“We have provided important contributions to Europe’s energy supply security with the projects we have implemented thus far. We do not demand anything that is not our right in the Eastern Mediterranean. We work to protect the legitimate interests of our country and nation regarding the region’s hydrocarbon resources. We object to initiatives that seek to confine our country into its coasts over maximalist maps that have no validity,” the President stated.
“TURKEY IS IN FAVOR OF PEACE AND JUSTICE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN”
Stressing that Turkey has shown its determination to protect its rights during some incidents that have taken place over the past few months, President Erdoğan continued as follows: “It must now have been understood that equations in which Turkey and the TRNC are not included cannot yield a Pax Mediterranea.
“Turkey is in favor of peace, cooperation, equity and justice in the Mediterranean, not of tension,” President Erdoğan pointed out, and said: “The Mediterranean is a sea that doesn’t divide but unites us and brings all of us closer to one another and strengthens our cooperation, and it should be so. The Mediterranean is our shared home and the roof of our big family, together with all its countries, from Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain, and all its people. We should turn the Eastern Mediterranean from an area of competition into a basin of cooperation that serves our long-term interests. We believe that the Eastern Mediterranean Conference, which web ring forward, will serve this purpose.”
“WE SHOULD DISCUSS NEW AND REALISTIC ALTERNATIVES IN CYPRUS”
Stating that Greece is turning a NAVTEX announcement into a new reason for tension by using merely the 10 per cent of the sites, President Erdoğan said: “We call on Greece, which in recent years has increased its airspace violations and especially its unlawful activities in demilitarized islands, to abandon its activities that heighten tensions. I believe that the exploratory talks that will begin on January 25 with our neighbor Greece will herald a new era.”
Underscoring that the EU should make a sincere self-criticism about both these issues and the Cyprus issue, President Erdoğan said that the lessons drawn from half-century long negotiations have laid bare that alternatives other than the two-state model will not produce a solution, and added: “Instead of talking failed models in Cyprus over and over again, we should discuss new and realistic alternatives.”
“WE HAVE NEVER GIVEN UP ON FULL MEMBERSHIP, WHICH IS OUR ULTIMATE GOAL”
President Erdoğan, as regards Turkey’s relations with the European Union, said: “We have been sharing a common geography for a thousand years; the same civilization basin has been feeding us. Just as it is not possible to read the Turkish history without Europe, it is not possible to understand the European history without Turkey. We as a nation envision our future together with Europe. In this spirit, we have been engaged in a struggle for full membership to the union for nearly 60 years. We have never given up on full membership, which is our ultimate goal, despite all the double standards and injustices we have faced in this process.”
“WE STAND READY TO CREATE A POSITIVE AGENDA WITH A LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE AND PUT OUR RELATIONS BACK ON TRACK”
Further stressing that Turkey couldn’t see the support and solidarity it expected from Europe during the July 15 coup attempt and in its fight against terror, President Erdoğan went on to say: “The FETO-member terrorists, who martyrized our 251 citizens on the night of the coup, continue to live in many European countries without undergoing any prosecution. What is more, members of the separatist terrorist organization are able to stage so-called protests targeting me personally as well as our nation and country in the middle of Europe.”
This picture is the main reason why the Turkish people’s faith in the EU and European values grows weaker, President Erdoğan underlined, and said: “Just as our country’s 60-year long admission process is a strategic choice for us, the EU accepting Turkey as a full member will be an ontological choice in terms of the future of the Union. The uncertainty that has heightened with Brexit will be dissipated with Turkey taking its rightful place in the European family. We as a country stand ready to create a positive agenda with a long-term perspective and put our relations back on track. We expect our European friends to display the same will.”
“TURKEY IS READY TO SHOW THE SAME WILL AGAIN FOR THE JOINT MANAGEMENT OF MIGRATION”
Pointing out that nearly 4 million people of Syrian origin are currently hosted in Turkey, President Erdoğan said: “We provide regular assistance to 5 million people in need outside our borders. The EU, which provided 3 billion euros in support to a country for 100 thousand refugees, didn’t fully deliver on even its commitment to deliver 3 plus 3 billion euros for 4 million refugees in Turkey. Turkey, nevertheless, is ready to show the same will again for the joint management of migration. Updating the Customs Union, providing visa liberalization to Turkish citizens and making progress in accession negotiations are also parts of the March 18 agreement. The visa liberalization was actually a promise that should have been honored by the end of 2014, not 2020, but it has yet to be fulfilled. 2020 ended, and we are in 2021.”
“WITH OUR PRESENCE IN IDLIB, WE HAVE PREVENTED A NEW HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY AND MIGRATION WAVE”
Pointing to the presence of PKK/YPG and DAESH terrorist organizations in northern Syria, President Erdoğan said that Germany, France, the UK and even the US, as coalition countries, did not stand with Turkey in its fight.
Underscoring that thousands of truck load of weapons, ammunition and equipment were sent to terrorist organizations and that terrorist organizations waged war on Turkey with these weapons, President Erdoğan said: “We as a NATO country have fought, are fighting and will fight against them. No holding back.”
Underlining that such areas as Libya and Nagorno Karabakh, which were deemed to be problematic by certain circles, were not related to the essence of the relations with the EU and member countries, President Erdoğan highlighted that decisions, made during the Berlin Conference against Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the illegitimate forces east of Libya, were not abided by.
“Let me say this very clearly; if we had not struggled against that putschist Haftar, the Government of National Accord there, which is recognized by the international community, would have been destroyed. Our presence there has prolonged the life of the Government of National Accord,” President Erdoğan said.
Noting that Turkey contributed to Europe’s security with its initiatives in these regions, President Erdoğan said: “We have captured and repatriated nearly 9 thousand foreign terrorist fighters. We have banned nearly 100 thousand people, identified to be linked to conflict zones, from entering our country. You have seen the bitter situation of the countries, which suffered attacks because they had not taken the necessary measures against the DAESH members deported by Turkey. We have secured areas in Syria which were once ravaged by terror and enabled over 420 thousand people to return home. With our presence in Idlib, we have prevented a new humanitarian tragedy and a large migration wave. The training and consultation support we provided to the Libyan Government of National Accord has prevented the country from being dragged to a bloody civil war. Our initiative has paved the way for the political process in Libya, led by the UN.”
“IT IS IN OUR HANDS TO MAKE 2021 A SUCCESSFUL YEAR IN TERMS OF EU-TURKEY RELATIONS”
Noting that Turkey helped justice to be served in Nagorno-Karabakh even if after a 30-year delay and the region to obtain stability it had longed for, President Erdoğan said that what the Minsk Group had failed to do in 30 years was achieved in 44 days with the support Turkey provided.
If these issues are viewed through an objective and strategic perspective, it will be seen that the interests of the EU and Turkey coincide, the President said. “It is in our hands to make 2021 as successful year in terms of EU-Turkey ties. I am of the belief that we can achieve this if we act with a long-term perspective instead of prejudices and fears.”