Ankara, July 12 (IANS) Turkey does not see the European Union (EU) as “indispensable” and the country will find it “comforting” if the organisation says Ankara cannot be accepted as a member, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
“If the EU, bluntly says, ‘We will not be able to accept Turkey’ this will relax us. We will then initiate our plan B, and C,” Erdogan told BBC in an interview.
“The EU is not indispensable for us… We are comfortable,” he said.
Erdogan said the Turks did not “want the EU anymore” and believed its approach to Turkey was “insincere”.
The President recalled his first term as Prime Minister, saying that the EU praised Turkey for accomplishing a “silent revolution” during leaders’ summits.
“But now the same EU not only doesn’t invite us to the leaders’ summits any more — they also waste our time. This is the situation right now,” Erdogan said.
“Despite all this we will continue being sincere with the EU for a little more time,” he added.
Speaking about the ongoing crisis involving Qatar and four Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain, Erdogan said that Turkey was not part of the rift and that the country wanted to promote “dialogue and peace” in the Gulf region, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
“We are in a hurry to find a solution here. Turkey is never in favour of Muslim killing Muslim in this region. We are fed up with this,” Erdogan said.
He also denied that Turkey had jailed 150 journalists, saying only two people with press cards were in prison. “Please let’s not deceive the world with these lies,” he said.
Turkey also extended the detention of Amnesty International’s local Director Idil Eser and nine others. Eser was detained earlier this month along with seven other rights activists and two foreign trainers.
The 10 were accused of being members of an “armed terrorist organisation” — although Amnesty said it is unclear which one.
Their detention raised alarm internationally, increasing fears that freedom of expression was being suppressed under Erdogan.
According to the BBC report, some 160 media outlets had been closed down in Turkey and 2,500 journalists or media workers were sacked from their jobs. Erdogan, however, disputed the figure saying: “No one is jailed because of journalism here.”
Erdogan was speaking almost a year to the day since the July 15 attempted military coup. At least 260 people died when rogue soldiers bombed government buildings and drove tanks into civilians, the report said.
In the 12 months since then, a state of emergency had been in place across the country. Over 50,000 people were arrested, and 140,000 dismissed or suspended on suspicion of being linked to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
“This is how they have organised and attempted the coup as a mob. They’ll work together to overthrow a state and then seek refuge as journalist. This is not acceptable,” Erdogan said.