Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a three-day visit to Central Europe during which he has been giving messages directed at EU officials, has described the bloc's stance regarding Turkey as "disrespectful," and said that being an EU-reject is not the end of the world, Todays Zaman reported.
Erdogan's remarks last week that Turkey should join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) instead of the EU caused confusion and a bit of a controversy both in Turkey and Europe. Although he later said the Shanghai Five is not an alternative to EU membership, Erdogan has repeatedly criticized the EU for being the wrongful party in the slow-down in Turkey's membership negotiations.
He explained to Turkish journalists accompanying him in Prague on Tuesday that his interest in joining international organizations such as the Shanghai Five or the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are part of his approach to gain a larger market for Turkey and Turkish products.
Speaking about Turkey's EU process, he said that Turkey was currently continuing to fulfill its obligations rising out of EU membership negotiations. However, he noted that Turkey's membership process began in 1959 and was accelerated in 1963. "And we have been patient all this time. How far we have come? When you look, there is the customs union  and the Helsinki summit , when Turkey was given candidate status] and the official start of Turkey's negotiations. We can call these three important steps. Except these three, they only engaged us. Has any other country been treated like this? No. This is in essence disrespect to Turkey. What is more natural than us expressing this situation?"
He further noted: "But is the EU a sine qua non for Turkey? Let me say that too, it is not something we can't do without. It is not the end of the world if they don't accept us to the EU. And the world is still here. We are still continuing on our path in a stable manner."