The Turkish president on Wednesday urged countries of the European Union to take “concrete steps” to develop ties with Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, and also to take a strategic approach on relations with Turkey.
“We as Turkey have displayed our principled attitude and efforts in favor of dialogue and diplomacy with the aim of implementing a positive agenda” Erdogan told a joint news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is in Turkey for an official visit.
“Henceforth, the European Union should approach its relations with our country from a strategic perspective, and take concrete steps,” he added.
Turkey has been an EU candidate country since 1999, and its accession talks began in 2005, but in recent years its candidacy has been essentially frozen.
“The petty calculations of a few member states should not be allowed to weaken EU and NATO-EU relations,” Erdogan stressed.
He did not name any member states in particular, but in recent years Turkey has accused both Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration of blocking Turkey’s EU bid for political reasons, and of weakening NATO by forming “alliances within the alliance.”
Erdogan said efforts to update the Customs Union and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens “should commence as soon as possible.”
On the issue of irregular migration, he said Turkey and Spain shoulder the major load of guarding Europe’s borders, and reiterated the need for policies to ensure “fair burden sharing.”