President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday evening for jokes that suggest Turkey's current progress toward EU accession indicates the country will not become an EU member state until the year 3000. "We will further our relations with the EU as much as we can, emphasizing the fact that we will do so by preserving our honorable stance as well as our national interests. Our local and national should never be damaged," Erdoğan said.
Drawing attention to the fact that Turkey has been in line for EU membership since 1963, or 53 years, Erdoğan said: "How long will this waiting continue? We should make a decision along with our government and should take the necessary steps accordingly."
Erdoğan hinted at a recent statement Cameron made regarding Turkey's membership, adding: "Turkey is not an ordinary nation or an ordinary country. There is no such thing as ‘waiting until the year 3000' or anything like that. No one should test our patience, and I believe that, at that point, our government will give, satisfactorily so, the requested responses to the relevant people at the necessary platforms."
Erdoğan further stressed the importance of the ongoing fight against terrorism, indicating that Turkey will not change its anti-terror laws as the EU requires. "We will carry on in our fight against terrorist organizations both inside and outside of the country," Erdoğan said, adding: "We will stand against any formations that threaten the unity of the nation and the country using all political, diplomatic and military capabilities." Erdoğan also called Turkey a center of hospitality that currently hosts 3 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees, noting that Turkey is willing to continue supporting refugees and continues to do its part concerning EU negotiations.
The EU had promised visa-free travel for Turkish citizens as part of the migration deal, provided that Ankara meet the stipulated criteria, which includes changes to Turkey's broad anti-terrorism laws. Turkish officials have said that the country will not change the laws during a time of ongoing fighting and continuous threat from DAESH and the PKK.