Turkey still wants 'full membership' of EU, Erdogan says

Ankara is seeking deeper trade ties and visa-free travel to Europe

Tom Batchelor
Monday 26 March 2018 13:14 BST
European Parliament votes to block Turkey's attempts to join EU

Turkey still seeks to gain "full membership" of the EU, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Joining the bloc remains a "strategic goal", he said, ahead of a meeting with EU leaders in Bulgaria.

Ankara wants deeper trade ties with the soon-to-be 27-member union, as well as visa-free travel to Europe.

Mr Erdogan said he would urge the EU to remove "political and artificial" hurdles against Turkey's membership and revive stalled accession negotiations.

A dispute between Turkey and EU-member Cyprus over energy exploration in the Mediterranean and the refugee crisis have strained ties in recent years.

The EU largely depends on Turkey to curtail the flow of migrants into Europe and is an important Nato ally but the bloc has deep concerns over the state of democracy and human rights in Turkey since the 2016 failed military coup.

Turkey remains a candidate for membership - a fact highlighted by Brexiteers during the EU referendum - but 13-year-long talks have ground to a halt.

In October, Mr Erdogan said Turkey no longer had a "need" for EU membership but refused to walk away from discussions, saying: "We will not be the side which gives up."

In a speech to the Turkish parliament at the time, he said Brussels had "failed us in a fight against terrorism".

However, both France and Germany have voiced strong opposition to Turkey's moves to join the bloc, with Emmanuel Macron saying in January that "recent developments and choices allow no progress".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also previously said it was clear Turkey should not join the EU and entry talks should end.

Additional reporting by agencies

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