Kemal Kilicdaroglu pledged to relaunch accession negotiations, stalled since 2016
Turkey’s opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has told the Financial Times that he will restart EU membership talks if he defeats President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in next month’s election. While Kilicdaroglu’s campaign rhetoric makes heavy use of pro-Western rhetoric, Erdogan’s government has sharply criticized Brussels.
Kilicdaroglu said on Friday that he “act immediately to resuscitate Turkey’s moribund EU accession talks”, in the words of the newspaper.
The 74-year-old former civil servant, whose People’s Republic Party (CHP) leads the six-party National Alliance, condemned Erdogan for restricting civil liberties and said if elected his top priorities would be “Economy and Democracy”.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and was recognized as a candidate in 1999. Accession negotiations were opened in 2005, but progress has been slow and no talks have taken place since 2016. The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee warned in a 2017 report that constitutional reforms strengthening its powers could run counter to EU law and threaten Ankara’s bid for membership.
Erdogan rejected Brussels’ warning. “You can write as many reports as you want,” he said at the time. “We do not recognize your reports. We will not recognize them in the future either.
Turkey cares little about what the EU says because Europe’s geopolitical influence is waning and its states are little more than US vassals, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu explained earlier this month. . “Europe does not exist” he told members of a youth association in Istanbul. “Europe is a mule in the American convoy. It has no peculiarities. »
Kilicdaroglu has been more obsequious towards the EU and its demands. “We will start with the process of normalizing domestic policy,” his adviser, Unal Cevikoz, told Politico last month. “It will just send the message to all our allies, and all European countries, that Turkey is back on the road to democracy, and it will certainly create a very serious change in the perception of Turkey’s position. “
Turkey is the only NATO member that has not condemned Russia for its military operation in Ukraine, and Ankara and Moscow have strengthened trade ties since the start of the conflict. Kilicdaroglu told the Financial Times that he would maintain economic ties with Russia, but said that “we don’t find it fair to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to attack and occupy Ukraine.
To secure a third term, Erdogan will have to win over an electorate struggling with stubbornly high inflation and a weakening currency, in addition to the economic fallout from last month’s earthquakes near the southern city of Gaziantep. Polls currently place Erdogan and Kiliicdaroglu in a statistical stalemate.