Turkey wants to continue EU accession bid, Erdogan says

Turkey wants to continue EU accession bid, Erdogan says

Turkey wants to continue EU bid in a win-win strategy for both sides, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, Anadolu reported.

"Our country, which has been a historical, geographical and cultural part of Europe for centuries, demands to continue the membership process to the EU -- a strategic target for us -- within the scope of mutual respect and equality and the understanding of a win-win [outcome]," Erdogan said in a written statement.

"The cooperation developed with the EU in a period when the refugee crisis hit its peak is the most clear and latest example of this understanding," he added.

The Turkish president released the message on Europe Day which marks the presentation of the Schuman Declaration in 1950 -- a proposal for the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor to the European Union.

Erdogan said the "greatest risk" against the unity of the EU was the discriminatory discourse by "populist politicians".

"Unfortunately, such social illnesses as discrimination, cultural racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, have been spreading across the continent. The extreme-right parties, which have reached a determinant position in politics and are receiving a growing number of votes, have captured the socio-political life in Europe," he said.

Pointing out that such tendencies also badly affect Turkey-EU relations, Erdogan added his country aimed to improve relations with the EU.

In his message released on Europe Day, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said: “Turkey, which considers itself European culturally, historically and geographically, wants to continue the EU accession process in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

"However, the separatist ideas that are greatly supported by other EU countries pose serious concerns about the future of the Union," he said referring to the U.K. Brexit.

The last Turkey-EU Summit was held in Brussels on March 18, 2016. The Turkey-EU Statement was adopted as a result of the summit. The main elements of the Statement are:

- All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into five Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey.

- For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria.

- Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated.

- The fulfillment of the visa liberalization roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016.

However, the last item was not finalized and Turkish leaders have taken an increasingly hard line against what they see as EU's double standards in excluding Turkey.

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