EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs EU, Erdogan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced a recent report by the European Union critical of the rule of law in his country, saying the EU needs Ankara more than Turkey needs the union.

“The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union,” Erdogan said in a televised speech to municipal leaders in Ankara on Tuesday.

On April 14, the European Parliament, the directly elected parliamentary institution of the EU, published a 2015 progress report on Turkey, which has long pressed for EU membership.

The report accused the Turkish government of “backsliding” on democracy and the rule of law, raising concerns over Ankara’s record on human rights and press freedom in 2015.

The Turkish president, however, dismissed the criticisms, arguing that they come at a time that Ankara-Brussels ties are on a good track.

“At a time when our relations with the European Union are in a positive phase regarding the migrants… it is provocative to come out with a report like that,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish president censured the report for what he called failure in praising Turkey’s hosting millions of refugees from neighboring Syria.

“Three million people have been looked after in this country so they don’t disturb the Europeans. Is there anything about this in the report?” he asked.

Elsewhere in his comments, President Erdogan emphasized that most of the criticisms against Turkey coming from the West had “bad intentions.”

A small Turkish ferry carrying refugees deported from Greece to Turkey, arrives in Dikili, Izmir Province, Turkey, April 4, 2016. ©AFP

Last month, Turkey and the EU sealed a controversial deal intended to stem the flow of refugees from Syria and other troubled countries to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara.

Under the deal, the bloc will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with money, visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

Critics, however, have accused Turkey of blackmailing Europe into letting it join the EU. Likewise, the bloc has come under fire for selling out its principles by offering to speed up Turkey’s EU membership process.

On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also warned that Ankara would not abide by its side of the refugee agreement unless the EU fulfilled a promise to grant Turks visa-free travel by June.

By Press TV