Addressing EU countries’ ambassadors to Ankara, President Erdoğan said: “Türkiye, which is a part of the continent of Europe geographically, historically and socially, surely is committed to its goal of full EU membership. Despite all the injustices we were subjected to, the EU remains to be our strategic priority.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with the European Union (EU) countries’ ambassadors to Ankara at Çankaya Presidential Palace.
“MANY COUNTRIES CHOSE TO BECOME INTROVERTED DURING THE PANDEMIC”
In his address to ambassadors at the meeting, President Erdoğan stated that partly due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the world had witnessed a period of changing perception of security, increasing struggle of strength and questioning of the order of rules-based relations, and said: “While such values as cooperation, solidarity and sharing were left aside, many countries chose to become introverted and remain indifferent to the humanitarian tragedies that occurred outside its borders during the pandemic considered to be the gravest healthcare crisis of this century. We sadly observe that the pandemic is deepening the gaps between the societies instead of bringing together the 8.5-billion family of humanity. Likewise, the injustices that take place regarding the fair access to vaccine and shouldering of the economic burden of the pandemic increasingly continue each passing day. No one, no country is exempt from the threats which pose a risk to the global order, democracy, social peace and democracy.
“As a matter of fact, the European Union has been adversely affected by this negative climate created as a result of the pandemic. The political, geographical and economic dissociations within the EU have become more explicit. This environment has caused many important issues, which are on the EU’s agenda, to be left aside. Unfortunately, the EU has taken no noteworthy steps in the face of many deep-rooted problems, particularly establishing a joint migration policy, xenophobia and animosity towards Islam. Anyone who can objectively review the issue see, acknowledge and admit that Türkiye is the ‘key country’ in overcoming the threats the Union is facing.”
“IT HAS BECOME MORE IMPORTANT FOR TÜRKİYE AND THE EU TO ADVANCE THEIR RELATIONS IN EVERY AREA”
“Türkiye as a negotiating candidate country has a problem-solving role in such fundamental issues as supply chains, terrorism, migration, security, defense, xenophobia, animosity towards Islam, healthcare and energy supply security,” President Erdoğan said, and added: “It has become more important, in this critical turning point, for Türkiye and the EU to advance their relations in every area. And we, with this understanding, have sought to place our relations with the Union on a firmer foundation. On the basis of the perspective of accession, we have worked in favor of dialogue and diplomacy in order to actualize the positive agenda. In addition to high-level summits, we have held dialogue meetings on climate, security, migration and health. I regret to say that we have not gotten the response we expect from the EU to all these steps we have taken. In order not to actualize this positive agenda, especially the updating of the Customs Union, stalling tactics have been used against us.
“It is evident that some countries, which exploit their rights emanating from full membership, have been acting in a preventive manner for political motives during this period. Yet, what is worth considering is the sacrificing of the Union’s interests to a few member countries. What actually needs to be settled is the monopolization of the Union’s will by few states. I believe Türkiye, with its resolute, sagacious and patient attitude during the full-membership process, has contributed to the perception of ‘software bugs’, so to speak, within the Union.”
“OUR EFFORTS FOR THE RETURN OF THE SYRIANS HAVE NOT BEEN SUPPORTED”
Underscoring that it would be unrealistic to expect the migration pressure to reduce as long as the current crises in Europe and Türkiye’s environ were resolved, President Erdoğan noted: “The migration problem will increasingly continue in such a conjuncture, where the current crises are constantly followed by new ones. We as Türkiye shape our policies in light of these realities, and make our predictions accordingly. On one hand we increase our aid to the countries that are the sources of irregular migration, and deal with the essential dimensions of the problem on the other. We have prevented, through our cross-border operations, the north of Syria from turning into a terror hub exporting terrorists to the entire world. We have contributed, through our operations against DAESH and the Syrian extension of PKK, to the establishment of the climate of stability and security in this region. Today, over 4 million Syrians are living in the areas cleared of terror by Türkiye. These people are striving to stay in their lands and hold on to the life despite the attacks conducted by both PKK/PYD/YPG and the regime forces on civilians and civilian settlements. Türkiye, with its presence there, has been contributing to the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity, while averting new migration waves. Any conscientious person will acknowledge that both Syria and Europe would have been facing a much more different situation today were it not for Türkiye’s extraordinary efforts. The migration crisis would have deepened, casualties would have further increased, terror would have escalated and instability would have expanded to a much broader geography were it not for our efforts.
“Türkiye’s selfless efforts have averted the worsening of the situation and the opening of new wounds in our hearts like that of toddler Aylan. Ensuring the safe and voluntary return of nearly 500 thousand Syrians guests of ours to their homes is another achievement of our country as well. However, despite these facts, Türkiye has not received a noteworthy support from the EU in its struggle against the migration crisis. The EU has yet to put into practice the Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme, which lays the groundwork for legal migration. The efforts, which we have exerted for the return of the Syrians to the areas we have cleared of terror, have not been supported. We have implemented the housing and infrastructure projects, to which Europe has not contributed, all by ourselves with the support of our nation and nongovernmental organizations. Moreover, the crisis with Belarus has once again revealed that the Union lacks a sustainable policy with regard to combatting migration.”
“SABOTAGING THE TÜRKİYE-EUROPE RELATIONS UNDER THE PRETEXT OF SOLIDARITY WITHIN THE UNION SHOULD BE PREVENTED”
President Erdoğan continued as follows: “Let me reiterate from here that all our expectation from the EU regarding the migration issue is the fair sharing of burden and responsibility. It is out of the question to talk about a profound cooperation in migration unless the migration management aspect of the March 18 Memorandum is updated. Also, it is a must during this period to put an end to pushbacks and practices against migrants, which violate international law. We particularly expect Europe to raise its voice in a more conscientious and bolder manner regarding the regrettable incidents in the Aegean, which have been reflected in the press.
“As is known, the March 18 Memorandum is also aimed at ensuring concrete progress in the Türkiye-EU relations as well as cooperation in the area of migration. In the days ahead, we need to make progress particularly about visa liberalization and the updating of the Customs Union. We are already taking steps to do our part as regards the remaining criteria under the Visa Liberalization Dialogue. Within this framework, we have covered a significant distance in fulfilling the remaining 6 of the 72 criteria. Besides visa liberalization, tourism and trade, breaking the prejudices towards Türkiye’s full membership will also be beneficial. And updating the Customs Union is in our mutual interest. Blocking the process with political motives causes harm to all sides. Beginning the negotiations will pave the way for reconciliation on many issues. We hope the EU may recover from its strategic short-sightedness in 2022 and act more courageously in improving the relations with Türkiye. It is clear that the current futile approach undermines the Union’s claim to be a regional and global power. Sabotaging the Türkiye-Europe relations under the pretext of solidarity within the Union should be prevented. To achieve this, some member states should quit seeking the solution to their problems with Türkiye in the corridors of the Union.”
“TÜRKİYE’S STANCE ON THE CYPRUS ISSUE IS CLEAR”
“Last year, we revived most of the dialogue mechanisms with Greece, our neighbor, and exerted great efforts for the de-escalation of tensions,” President Erdoğan went on to say, and stated: “We reached an agreement to adopt a positive agenda in order to improve our economic and trade relations. I sincerely believe we, as two countries that are neighbors, can address our issues through direct and constructive dialogue. Türkiye’s stance on the Cyprus issue is also clear. You all know why the negotiation processes that have been going on for over 50 years for the settlement of the Cyprus issue have remained inconclusive. The Greek Cypriots could never get rid of the mentality which sees them as the sole owner of the Island and disregards the Turkish Cypriots. While acting as the Greek Cypriot side’s mouthpiece, the European Union unfortunately ignored the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, an inseparable part of the very same geography. The double standards displayed have already demonstrated it to all of us that it is a waste of time to try to ‘dry today’s laundry under yesterday’s sun.’ We, together with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, continue to make efforts in order for the Cyprus issue to be resolved on the basis of the realities of the Island and in a manner beneficial to all sides. Acknowledging the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people will pave the way for solution. Such a solution will also contribute to the emergence of a better cooperation environment in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“It is now high time for the European Union to engage in a sincere introspection. If the European Union really wants to contribute to solution, it must fulfill the commitments it made back in 2004 and recognize the existence and will of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as make use of the solution proposal put forward in Geneva. The other course will be seen as a stalling tactic and mean nothing but a waste of time and energy.”
“EU REMAINS TO BE OUR STRATEGIC PRIORITY”
Underscoring that Türkiye had for over 5 decades been making efforts for EU membership, President Erdoğan noted: “During my nearly 20-year long tenure as Prime Minister and President, I have grasped in detail every aspect of our accession process. During this 20-year period, I have met with countless leaders, presidents, prime ministers, ministers and EU representatives in Europe. I have personally seen and experienced how our steps on the path towards full membership were hindered and our country was subjected to double standards. In light of these experiences, let me sincerely note that Türkiye, which is a part of the continent of Europe geographically, historically and socially, surely is committed to its goal of full EU membership. Despite all the injustices we were subjected to, the EU remains to be our strategic priority. Indeed we continue to endeavor to this end.”
Drawing attention to the accelerated efforts under the guidance of the National Action Plan for the EU Accession which covers 2021-2023, President Erdoğan went on to say: “The Judicial Reform Strategy, the Human Rights Action Plan, the 4th National Action Plan on Combatting Violence against Women and the 5 judicial packages we adopted are the most concrete symbols of our commitment to the process. We have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement and announced our net-zero emission goal for 2053. We have put into action our Action Plan on European Green Deal. We also attach great importance to the financial cooperation and participation in Union programs, which is one of the most visible aspects of the Türkiye-EU relations.
“With the EU funds of €9.2 billion, allocated to our country in the past 20 years, nearly 900 large-scale projects have been carried out. All of these projects are to our mutual benefit. It is clear that it will serve our shared interests if the EU increases the amount of funds for Türkiye within the scope of Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance in the coming years. In addition to all these, what really should be done is for the EU to act sincerely, fairly and faithfully with regard to Türkiye’s accession process. I believe when we achieve to do that, the problems actually impeding our accession process will go away and our country’s efforts will bear fruit.”
“EU SHOULD ACT SINCERELY, FAIRLY AND FAITHFULLY WITH REGARD TO TÜRKİYE’S ACCESSION PROCESS”
“The incidents taking place in our near geography indicate how important, even vital it is for us to strengthen our cooperation on foreign policy and security,” President Erdoğan further stressed, and added: “In this regard, we are exerting intense efforts to resolve the political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. That the EU membership perspective came to a standstill has had a huge effect on the region signaling a return to the negative atmosphere of the 1990s. A new era has begun in the Caucasus when Azerbaijan liberated its occupied lands. Following this development, we have initiated the normalization process with Armenia. For these steps to yield the desired outcomes, it is of importance that Armenia makes the best of the peace opportunity in the region and builds a positive relation with Azerbaijan. Another important topic in our region is Syria. The EU should exert concrete efforts for the political process to gain momentum instead of approaching the Syrian issue only from a migration perspective. It should be our primary aim to preserve the calm in Libya. The elections should be held in a manner that will contribute to lasting stability and peace. We as Türkiye continue to give the necessary support to this end.
“We successfully completed the 3rd Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul on December 16-18, 2021 despite the pandemic conditions. I know that the European Union-African Union Summit will be held next month, and believe we have great cooperation potential in this geography. With its active and humanitarian foreign policy, Türkiye will continue its endeavors in line with the goal of ‘a fairer world’ in 2022 as well. In this spirit, we as a negotiating candidate country stand ready to strengthen our cooperation and dialogue with the EU. It is in our shared interest to act with a long-term perspective instead of biases or fears. I especially expect you to support turning a new page in the Türkiye-EU relations through your guidance for Brussels and your own capitals.”