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Erdogan Meets Macron, Expresses Frustration over Waiting for EU Membership

Erdogan Meets Macron, Expresses Frustration over Waiting for EU Membership

Friday, 5 January, 2018 - 19:15
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced on Friday his frustration over the long delays by the European Union to decide whether his country could become a member.

He made his stance during a visit to Paris where he met French President Emmanuel Macron.

Erdogan added that Ankara was "seriously tired" of waiting for the EU, saying: "Unfortunately, we did the first steps in 1963, and it's now been 54 years that Turkey has been waiting in the antechamber of the EU."

"We have been seriously tired, my nation, too,” he told a joint press conference with Macron.

Erdogan was in Paris as part of efforts to improve his government's strained relationship with Europe,

Adding that frustration might tempt Turkey to turn its back to Europe, Erdogan said: "One cannot permanently implore and wait to be finally included."

Ties between Turkey and Europe deteriorated last year after authorities in several countries prevented Turkish government ministers from holding political rallies to court expatriates' votes in a referendum to expand the president's powers.

Erdogan unleashed a series of insults at NATO allies, accusing European officials of racism, harboring terrorists and behaving like Nazis.

Macron acknowledged that Turkey's EU accession talks remained stalled. He said the relationship between Europe and Turkey needed to be rethought with the goal of creating a partnership that would ensure Turkey's "future will be built looking toward Europe and with Europe."

The two leaders also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the fight against terror and the war in Syria. France and Turkey also signed defense, banking and commercial deals, including the planned sale of 25 Airbus A330s to Turkish Airlines.

The trip was Erdogan's first to France since his government strongly cracked down on suspected opponents following a failed coup in July 2016. About 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 others removed from public sector jobs in Turkey.

Protests over deteriorating press freedom and human rights greeted the Turkish president upon his arrival.

The French Communist Party and several left-wing parties have criticized Erdogan's visit to France.

Macron for his part told Erdogan that democratic countries must respect the rule of law in their fight against terrorism.

Macron said after his talks with the Turkish president that they had disagreed about human rights.

“Our democracies must be strong standing up to terrorism... But at the same time our democracies must completely protect the rule of law,” the French leader added.

He stated that recent developments in Turkey did not allow for progress in Ankara’s decades-long push to join the EU.

Discussions should change focus, he said, mentioning the possibility of a “partnership” that would fall short of full membership.

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