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Turkey ‘with or without’ EU

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Murat Yetkin

If anyone wants to explain the relationship between the European Union and Turkey with a song, they could use U2’s “With or Without You” considering its half a century of painful history. But yesterday, Feb. 5, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan told a group of journalists on his way from Prague to Budapest that to be a member of EU is not a “sine qua non” for Turkey, it is not a must.

He also said Turkey was fed up with being delayed by the EU and this stalling should come to an end.

Erdoğan has been escalating his tone regarding the EU since the beginning of 2013. The last half of 2012 was not very comfortable for Turkey because of the Greek Cypriot term presidency. Turkey had announced in advance that Ankara would halt political dialogue with the Commission, since it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus as representing the Turkish Cypriots in their own republic on the north part of the island, recognized only by Turkey.

Erdoğan’s fury goes back to 2004. Then he took political risks, convinced Turkish Cypriots to change the paradigm into “Don’t be the first one to say no” and also approved a U.N. plan for the reunification of the island, which they did. But days later, when Greek Cypriots who actually said “no” to the already-settled-through-diplomacy-reunification plan were let in the EU as full members to represent the whole of the island. The fury deepened when EU promises to Turkish Cypriots, if they’d say “yes” were not kept and moreover Greek Cypriots, as a member with veto power now put hold on many chapters in membership negotiations.

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