Turkey's outreach to Europe is inflaming tensions

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
Ankara, Turkey Published: Nov 23, 2020, 11:12 PM(IST)

(File photo) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

From stoking the rage of extremists to justifying violence in the name of terror, Erdogan has been lambasted by European leaders for several reasons

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's outreach to his country's diaspora is inflaming tensions with Europe.

From stoking the rage of extremists to justifying violence in the name of terror, Erdogan has been lambasted by European leaders for several reasons.

However, now Erdogan has taken a u-turn and decided to play the victim card. He said on Sunday that his country, an official candidate for European Union membership, sees itself as an inseparable part of Europe but will not give in to attacks and double standards.

Also read: Germany accuses Turkey of obstructing Libya peace

At one point Turkey had pursued a track towards EU membership, but it encountered opposition from several EU members and has pulled back under Erdogan's leadership.

But on Saturday he said: "We don't see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe. We envisage building our future together with Europe."

Turkey has no problem with any country or institution "that cannot be resolved through politics, diplomacy or dialogue," he added. 

Also read: Why Greece, Turkey are fighting over hydrocarbons in Mediterranean Sea

Erdogan's message comes as EU leaders are to decide at a December summit whether to impose further sanctions in response to recent Turkish activity.

Its exploration ship Oruc Reis remains at the centre of tensions with Brussels and on Saturday, Ankara extended its mission until November 29, despite protests from Athens.

A Greek foreign ministry statement denounced the move as "illegal conduct, which further undermines any prospect for a constructive dialogue. 

"These actions, which essentially cancel any prospect for improving EU-Turkey relations, are taking place, while Turkish officials state that their country's accession to the EU is a 'strategic priority,'" the ministry said. 

Turkey's drilling activities in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean have raised tensions with the EU as Turkey locked in a dispute with and Greece and Cyprus over the extent of their continental shelves and hydrocarbon resources.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this month that Turkey's rhetoric on Cyprus was aggravating tensions with the EU and Ankara had to understand that its behaviour was "widening its separation" from the bloc.

The EU will discuss Turkey's pursuit of natural gas exploration in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean at their next summit in December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

"We do not believe that we have any problems with countries or institutions that cannot be solved through politics, dialogue and negotiations," Erdogan said.

Erdogan, connected to the event through videolink, said that the EU should keep its promises regarding the migrants issue and making Turkey a full member of the bloc. He was referring to a 2016 deal under which Ankara curbed migrant entries into Europe in exchange for financial help and visa-free travel in the Schengen region.

Turkey recently extended the seismic survey work being carried out by its Oruc Reis ship in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29, according to a naval notice.

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