EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs EU, President Erdoğan says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 19.04.2016 13:39
Updated 20.04.2016 13:43
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Describing the recently presented EP progress report on Turkey as biased and provocative, President Erdoğan criticized the EU and said it is rather the EU that needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU

The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday, reacting to European Parliament's (EP) 2016 Turkey progress report, accusing it of being prepared with a destructive rather than constructive mindset.

Speaking to local administrators at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on Tuesday, Erdoğan criticized the EP progress report, saying it was prepared with a fixed and biased mindset that is mostly destructive and provocative.

"The presentation of such a report at a time period when many of our relations, including migrants, the opening of some chapters and visa liberalization, with the European Union are positive is simply a provocative act," Erdoğan told the audience, and added that he hoped the people of Europe see and recognize it.

He rebuked the report's approaches on the Cyprus issue, the 1915 events and the fight against the PKK in Turkey's southeastern provinces, saying that the facts are distorted in the report.

Explaining that some EU leaders will pay a visit to the refugee camps in Gaziantep on April 23, Erdoğan said there is nothing in the report about the refugees in Turkey, which, at nearly 3 million people, is the greatest number of refugees in any country.

Top EU officials and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Turkey on April 23 in the wake of a deal struck with the country to stem irregular migration of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the EU. Merkel, along with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, will travel to the province of Gaziantep.

"We know that this report is nonbinding for sure. Our fellows have already sent it back. Turkey making such decision [as it did] last year is accurate. We got used to seeing this.

"Turkey will never give up on its 2023 objectives," Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan also urged Europe to be sincere about the fight against terrorism and called on the EU to act on the issue "without discrimination."

"While campaigns to collect money and propaganda meetings are organized for the PKK or YPG [People's Protection units] and PYD [Democratic Union Party] in the middle of Europe and those were supported with arms, there is no significance in the messages of solidarity for the fight against terrorism. As for how DAESH's activities in Europe concern us here, you should be concerned with the PKK's activities in Europe as well," he said, adding that legitimizing the PKK or PYD is no different from doing so for DAESH.

Erdoğan said the operations against the PKK will continue until it is purged from the southeast.

"We are going to all lengths, and we will do so on this issue. We will maintain solidarity with our soldiers and police officers. If we cannot accomplish this, the shame will be on us. We will succeed. Nobody has a right to disrupt the peace in this nation."

He also said that the PKK's urban war strategy of digging ditches and erecting barricades in has collapsed, with local Kurds turning a deaf ear to them and giving no credit to the PKK's "self-rule game" and its supporters, implying the pro-Kurdish the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

"The most important reason of all this is locals preferring to side with our state by being a part of it, not dividing it."

He also expressed his appreciation for Parliament's work regarding the lifting of the immunities of deputies. Parliament will address the motion this week after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu signed a motion to lift the parliamentary immunity of deputies last Thursday. Through the temporary amendment to the Constitutional Law on parliamentary immunity, all deputies suspected of committing crimes prior to and after the elections are to be tried as soon as the amendment is approved by Parliament.

He also said Turkey showed its stance at the 13th Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) Islamic Summit Conference in Istanbul, siding with goodness, justice and peace.

The OIC, which is the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations, met in Istanbul for its 13th session on April 14-15 to address the problems facing Muslim-majority countries, with its main focus on those dealing with sectarianism and terrorism.

He said that all Muslims, 1.7 billion people around the world, must be united with the conscious of being the "ummah" (Muslim community) and not fall prey to the dangers of sectarianism.

"There are three important disturbances in the Islamic world and one of them is sectarianism, the other is racism and another is terrorism" he had said.

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