ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that his country, an official candidate for European Union membership, sees itself as an inseparable part of Europe but will not give in to attacks and double standards.
“We see ourselves as an inseparable part of Europe…However this does not mean that we will bow down to overt attacks to our country and nation, veiled injustices and double standards,” Erdogan said in a speech to the members of its AK Party.
Turkey’s drilling activities in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean have raised tensions with the EU as Turkey locked in a dispute with and Greece and Cyprus over the extent of their continental shelves and hydrocarbon resources.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this month that Turkey’s rhetoric on Cyprus was aggravating tensions with the EU and Ankara had to understand that its behaviour was “widening its separation” from the bloc.
The EU will discuss Turkey’s pursuit of natural gas exploration in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean at their next summit in December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.
“We do not believe that we have any problems with countries or institutions that cannot be solved through politics, dialogue and negotiations,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, connected to the event through videolink, said that the EU should keep its promises regarding the migrants issue and making Turkey a full member of the bloc. He was referring to a 2016 deal under which Ankara curbed migrant entries into Europe in exchange for financial help and visa-free travel in the Schengen region.
Turkey recently extended the seismic survey work being carried out by its Oruc Reis ship in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29, according to a naval notice.
(Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean)