President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could “part ways” with the European Union over its membership bid in the wake of a report published by the bloc last week that criticized the country for democratic shortcomings including censorship laws.
“During this period when the European Union is making moves to break away from Turkey, we will make our assessment against these developments and after these evaluations, we may part ways with the European Union if necessary,” he told reporters in Istanbul before traveling to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
The 2022 European Parliament report adopted this month said “the accession process cannot resume under the current circumstances.” The report cited concerns regarding censorship laws, a crackdown on critical voices, a lack of independence of the judiciary, a deterioration of women’s rights and more.
The parliament called on the EU to explore “a parallel and realistic framework” for EU-Turkey relations.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry slammed the report saying, “This report, filled with unjust accusations and prejudices based on the disinformation of anti-Turkey circles, is a reflection of the European Parliament’s usual shallow and non-visionary approach, both in its relations with our country and the future of the EU.”
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The EU and Turkey started accession negotiations in 2005. Though the process stalled, Turkey has remained a key economic and defense partner for the bloc.
In July, Turkey’s Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said that the country looks up to the EU as source of inspiration for change, in an attempt to revive shelved talks. “That is the best alternative out there,” he said.