Erdogan accuses EU of 'distancing itself' from Turkey
Erdogan's aspirations of joining the EU have been recently halted over democracy concerns in Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the European Union on Saturday of maintaining a distance from Turkey, whose ambitions to join the organization have stagnated due to criticism of Ankara's efforts to resolve democratic and rule of law issues.
In exchange for dropping its opposition to Sweden's effort to join NATO, Erdogan obtained a guarantee from Brussels to resuscitate the membership discussions that were initially launched in 2005.
The EU's enlargement commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi, visited Turkey earlier this month, stating that while membership had great potential, the EU needed to see action on human rights problems before negotiations could continue.
"The European Union is trying to distance itself from us," Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul's Ataturk airport before flying to New York for the UN General Assembly.
"We will carry out our own assessment of the situation and we also could take another direction," he said earlier today, explaining that Turkey could part ways with the Union.
Erdogan has made repairing frayed ties with Western partners a priority after winning a tough election in May following years of tensions after his government began a broad crackdown in the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, generating claims of human rights violations.
During his trip, Varhelyi remarked that the European Council set "very clear criteria" that needed addressing, adding that those criteria are "related to democracy and the rule of law and, for example, a credible roadmap for moving forward in these reforms."
In addition, Varhelyi stressed, "It is essential that Turkey remains engaged with the EU, also on the implementation of sanctions against Russia, in particular as regards the sanctioned products."
Two days ago, Ankara slammed the European Parliament's emphasis on collaboration in imposing sanctions against Russia as Turkey and the European Union embarked on a new endeavor to restart the country's stalled membership negotiations, Bloomberg reported.
Additionally, Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a robust condemnation on Saturday in response to a US State Department report that accused the nation of enlisting child soldiers. The Ministry emphasized its intent to deliver a fitting reply to what it perceives as a baseless accusation that goes against the principles of alliance.
In its recent update to the 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department included Turkey as a nation employing underage soldiers.