The recent decisions adopted by the EU at the bloc’s General Affairs Council have once again shown that the EU does not approach enlargement with a strategic approach but rather one based on membership solidarity and the narrow views of certain members, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Friday.
In a written statement, the ministry said the decisions ignored the fact that Turkey is continuing accession negotiations and the country’s importance in terms of regional peace, stability and welfare.
“These decisions, which are a new example of how the EU is exploited by some member states’ narrow views and selfish interests, neither contribute to Turkey-EU relations or the general interests of Europe, nor do they bring us any closer to the aim of creating a more positive and constructive agenda,” it said.
“We are surprised to see that the EU, while making these decisions, acts as an interest group based on bargaining, not as a set of principles and values.”
Turkey-EU relations are marked by disputes on several issues, including tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's role in Syria, the migrant crisis and the stalemate in Turkey's accession process to join the bloc.
"The Council notes with regret that Turkey continues to move further away from the European Union," the General Affairs Council said in conclusions published on Tuesday.
"Turkey's accession negotiations therefore effectively have come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing," the document added, reiterating a previous conclusion by the council.
The council also reiterated "its serious concerns about the further and deeply worrying backsliding in the areas of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights including the freedom of expression, as well as the systemic lack of independence of the judiciary."
Specifically, the EU states criticized Turkey's foreign policy, which they said increasingly collided with EU priorities.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, on the other side, said the decisions regarding the Eastern Mediterranean and the Cyprus question “are once again far from reality, unilateral, inconsistent and reflect the maximalist stance of the Greek Cypriot-Greek duo.”
Stressing that these decisions ignore the presence of the Turkish Cypriots, it added that the EU turned a blind eye to the provocations escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration as well as their unilateral actions.
“As long as this stance of the EU continues, it is not possible that it contributes constructively to the Cyprus question,” the ministry underlined, calling on the bloc to see the realities on the island and stop ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
Greece has often been embroiled in tensions with neighboring Turkey over a range of issues, from competing claims over hydrocarbon resources in the Aegean Sea to the demilitarization of islands.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims made by European Union members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Both sides cite a range of decades-old treaties and international agreements to support their conflicting territorial claims.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations.
“Turkey has a will to enhance relations with the European Union through a concrete and positive agenda based on a membership perspective,” the ministry further added.
Turkey has the longest history with the union and the longest negotiation process. The country signed an association agreement with the EU's predecessor in 1964, the European Economic Community (EEC), which is usually regarded as a first step to eventually becoming a candidate. Applying for official candidacy in 1987, Turkey had to wait until 1999 to be granted the status of a candidate country. For the start of the negotiations, however, Turkey had to wait for another six years, until 2005, a uniquely long process compared with other candidates.