The European Union is a part of Turkey, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said, as he commented on the rocky relationship between Ankara and the bloc.
“The European Union is a part of Turkey. Turkey is also a part of the European Union,” İmamoğlu said in a meeting with the ambassadors of 27 EU countries in Ankara on Dec. 3.
“I really want you to approach and care about the issue of Turkey-EU relations with a special interest in order to prevent this relationship from getting older,” he added.
Relations between Ankara and the bloc have been strained in recent years over a number of issues, with the most recent one being Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria.
Ankara has repeatedly slammed the EU for stalling the country’s accession process.
During the meeting, İmamoğlu told the EU ambassadors that positive steps taken in Istanbul would quickly spread across Turkey.
“I would like to remind you that Turkey is the most significant center in the EU’s east. I believe that good steps and beginnings in Istanbul would spread to Turkey in a short period of time,” he said, adding that such a move would have a positive effect on the Middle East.
“You’ll see that a positive environment and a process that’s away from populism with a firm belief in democracy would create an effect on the Middle East. At the same time, this process would effect Europe and as a result, the world. I’m inviting you to take interest and assume an active role in this process and to establish sustainable relations with us,” İmamoğlu also said.
Commenting on the years-long accession process, the mayor said that Turkey waited for “a human lifetime.”
“This process has taken too long,” he said.
İmamoğlu noted that steps in the areas of culture, arts and music can be taken in order for a close encounter between Turkey and the EU.
“We know that Istanbul’s distinctive structure is admired by Europe. We are aware that Istanbul is one of the most important and biggest cities in Europe,” he said.
“Istanbul is the capital of eastern Europe,” he added, while urging the envoys to organize events in Istanbul.