Turkey and the European Union have failed to make substantial progress in their accession talks, pushing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to once again say that Turkey is seriously considering seeking membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an alternative at a time when the EU's future looks increasingly dim, Today's Zaman reported.
Speaking to reporters during a televised program aired in Kanal 24 late on Friday, Erdoğan said Turkey is now seeking alternative options amid eroding hopes on the EU process with regard to adamant opposition to Turkey's membership by a number of EU member countries.
Touching upon a wide array of issues, Erdoğan said Turkey is seriously considering being part of the SCO.
Turkey was accepted as a dialogue partner by the SCO at its annual summit in Beijing on June 7.
"The fact is that we have not yet given up on the EU process. Egemen Bağış makes his presentation on [Turkey-EU] relations at every Cabinet meeting. He regularly travels throughout Europe," Erdoğan said, citing the government's continuing interest in the EU despite the pessimistic atmosphere.
Regarding ongoing peace talks with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Erdoğan said he is ready to take any risk to end the dispute that has claimed the lives of thousands of people over the past three decades. "I'm aware of the risk I have taken. If there is a fire, extinguish it with water. If I can't, I try to push it away from me, to a point where it cannot hurt me."
He said Turkey is in the process of finding a solution and that the government is ready to use any instrument in this process to come up with a viable solution.
He also touched upon an ongoing discussion on the definition of the nation in the Constitution. Erdoğan said his party is ready to discuss a new definition and urged other parties to decide whether defining the concept of nation will take place though a constitutional change or if the matter will be settled through a minor change to existing law.
"Some of our friends from the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] have called me and I told them that it upsets me if they doubt my sincerity," Erdoğan said, calling on BDP deputies to lower the tone of their remarks. Erdoğan said he would not be able to bear the harsh remarks.
"They deliver speeches in Diyarbakır. At the end of the speech they say, 'The prime minister, who backs peace efforts, is bombing our Kurdish brothers.' Why should I bomb my Kurdish brothers?" Erdoğan asked, underlining that Turkey bombs terrorists in the mountains.
Erdoğan also lamented the poor cooperation between the EU and Turkey in the fight against terrorism.
"Nearly three years ago [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy told me in a G-20 meeting that he had a surprise thing to tell me. He told me France would turn one of the prominent leaders of the terrorist organization over to Turkey. Sarkozy is gone but no one was turned anyone over to us," Erdoğan said.