President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described the European Union as “unpredictable,” as he criticized the bloc for changing its stance often.
“The EU is unpredictable. On the one hand, they show good will, but on the other hand they’re still in the same place,” Erdoğan told reporters on Jan. 27 when asked about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Turkey and the future of Turkey’s relations with the EU.
The President also commented on the stalled process of visa-free travel to EU member states.
“They’ve been trying to corner us by saying, ‘You didn’t fulfill this or that requirement’ when we have done everything. As you know, the same situation is also in place in the Customs Union. Personally, I’m sick of responding to these, but they aren’t fed up with cornering us,” he added.
Ankara and the European Union signed an agreement in 2016 as a solution for the rapid influx of refugees into Europe, most of whom passed through Turkey. As part of the deal, the EU promised to provide a total of €6 billion in financial aid to the country and guaranteed that Turkish citizens would be granted visa-free travel to EU member states.
Turkey’s first applied to join the European Economic Community in 1963, but did not begin full membership negotiations to join the European Union until 2005. But accession talks have made little progress.
“They are not fair. They’ve been saying, ‘Turkey is a country with high population. We can’t accept Turkey.’ They are continuing to state excuses,” Erdoğan said.
“We are patient and continuing like this. God knows until when we will do so,” he also said.
‘Abu Dhabi supports Wagner’
Turning to the ongoing conflict in Libya, Erdoğan said that Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA), has been receiving support from the United Arab Emirates through the mercenary group Wagner.
“Wagner’s financial support is provided by the Abu Dhabi administration. They’ve been transferring serious amount of money. They also send weapons and ammunition,” Erdoğan said, as he also reiterated Ankara’s support for the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Serraj.
“Haftar is like a desert landlord of Libya. He has control over the desert areas of the country, but he doesn’t have any control on populated areas,” he added.
On Nov. 27, 2019 Ankara and Tripoli reached two separate memorandums of understanding (MoU), one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s parliament on Jan. 2 approved a motion on sending troops to Libya to support Serraj in fending off Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli.