Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the EU Friday of backing the ‘No’ campaign in this month’s referendum on expanding his powers but insisted Turkey’s door was open to reinvigorating battered ties with the bloc.
Turkey has sought for over half a century to become a member of the European Union but the bid has stuttered badly in the last months, particularly in the run-up to the April 16 referendum.
Erdogan previously bitterly attacked EU states for not allowing Turkish ministers to campaign on European territory, accusing The Hague and Berlin of behaviour like Nazi Germany.
“Okay, you (the EU) gave support for the ‘No’ campaign (in the referendum). You lost,” he said at the Atlantic Council Istanbul summit.
“From now you close that chapter and put efforts into how you will develop your relations with Turkey. Although you carried out that campaign, we are opening our door.”
Erdogan spoke with Turkey a key issue at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Valletta as concern grows over the rule of law under the Turkish strongman.
Some analysts have suggested it is wholly unrealistic that Turkey will ever join the bloc and Erdogan has on occasion mooted restoring capital punishment, a move that would automatically end its bid.
But German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in Malta his government was “strictly against breaking off the accession talks…. It would be the completely wrong reaction.”
The ‘Yes’ camp won the referendum with 51.41 percent of the vote against 48.59 percent for the ‘No’ camp, according to final official results announced late Thursday. The opposition alleged major irregularities but its complaints were rejected by the election commission and a top court.
Also at the Atlantic Council Istanbul summit, Erdogan’s influential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin emphasised Turkey wants “to keep EU membership as a strategic goal.”
“But it takes two to tango and if you will talk about partnership and trust it is a two way street,” he said.
Kalin accused Europe of doing too little against Kurdish militants and the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 15 failed coup.
“If the Europeans want to do something they have to do something about these terror groups,” he said.