ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the European Union on Saturday of moving away from Turkey, whose bid to join the bloc has stalled amid criticism of Ankara’s efforts to address concerns about democracy and the rule of law.
Erdogan won a promise from Brussels to revive membership talks that began in 2005 in exchange for lifting a blockade on Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this month, EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi traveled to Turkey and said that while membership has “huge potential”, the bloc needs to see action on human rights issues before talks can resume.
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“The European Union is trying to distance itself from us,” Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before flying to New York for the UN General Assembly.
“We will carry out our own assessment of the situation and we could also take another course,” he said.
After winning a hard-fought election in May, Erdogan has made it a priority to mend frayed ties with Western allies after years of tension after his government launched a sweeping crackdown following a failed coup in July 2016 that sparked allegations of human rights abuses.
During his trip, Varhelyi said that “there are very clear criteria that have also been set by the European Council and that need to be addressed”.
“And those criteria are related to democracy and the rule of law and, for example, a credible plan to move forward with these reforms,” he said.
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