EU Not the Only Option, Turkey Discusses Accession to SCO – Erdogan
The EU membership is not the only option for Turkey, the country’s leadership discusses possible accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Russian President Valdimir Putin and Kazakhstan’s leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
ANKARA (Sputnik) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the issue of Turkey joining the European Union could be put to a referendum next year. Erdogan’s warnings followed European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s threats to introduce economic sanctions against Turkey amid arrests of opposition politicians and journalists in the country. Schulz also said that Brussels would halt Ankara’s accession talks if Turkey introduced capital punishment.
Turkey signed an association agreement with the then-European Community in 1963, and submitted a membership application in 1987. Talks about Ankara’s membership of the European Union began in 2005. The negotiations on Turkish EU membership have been repeatedly suspended due to the Cyprus dispute and Turkey’s record of denying press freedom, among other obstacles.
“Brexit can spread, such voices are heard from France, Italy. Under these circumstances, Turkey should feel calm. One should not say that the European Union is the only option. Why Turkey cannot become a member of the SCO? I talked about it with Putin and Nazarbayev. Turkey’s participation in the SCO will give us more freedom of action in this regard,” Erdogan told the Turkish reporters on the flight back after his official visit to Uzbekistan as quoted by the Sabah newspaper. The Turkish leader said that the process of normalization of relations with Russia after the November 2015 downing of a Russian aircraft by Turkey over Syria was going forward. “The relations with Russia we have now are good. Everything cannot happen overnight. On December 5-6, our prime minister [Binali Yildirim] will visit Russia, while in the first quarter of 2017 the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council will be held. High-level visits are continuing.”
The SCO is a political, economic and military alliance that includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Belarus, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan hold observer status in the organization, while Turkey, as well as Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Armenia, Nepal and Sri Lanka hold status of dialogue partners. Pakistan, India and Iran have officially applied for SCO membership.
Originally published by Sputnik News: https://sputniknews.com/politics/201611201047639279-turkey-eu-accession-sco/
CHINA WELCOMES TURKISH BID FOR SCO MEMBERSHIP
By Sman Erol
Turkey’s aspirations for membership in the Russian and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) might materialize as the organization moves towards admitting new members, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a special talk with Today’s Zaman.
“The SCO is working on improving the administrative and financial basis for new members. The member states of the SCO will meet and make a decision together on the applications proposed by states that are interested in joining,” said a senior Chinese official on Friday.
In addition, he said the SCO observes the principle of openness and values the partnership with observer countries, including Turkey as a dialogue partner, adding that “the SCO is mapping out detailed cooperative measures.”
The Chinese government’s statement came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in a TV interview last week that Turkey might seek membership in the SCO, given the stalled negotiations with the European Union that Turkey has struggled for 40 years to join.
“I recently said to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin: ‘Take us into the Shanghai Five. Take us and we will say goodbye to the EU.’ What’s the point of stalling?” Erdoğan said, referring to the SCO by its previous name.
There has been no official statement on the issue from the Russian government.
Acknowledging for the first time in public Erdoğan’s comment that “the SCO is much better than the EU,” which led to a wide range of debate and discussion, Chinese analysts say Ankara’s decision to move toward the SCO matches the actual development and power of Turkey in the region. That is, Turkey can choose to go for the SCO or for the EU.
“Since the EU has not accepted Turkey, Turkey can search for a new way. Strengthening the relationship with the SCO will help Turkey to realize its strategic goal for 2023,” Professor Wang Lincong, director of the international relations division of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies and secretary-general of the Gulf Research Center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said in an interview with Today’s Zaman.
In 2023 Turkey will mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. It is also a critical date that Turks have set to achieve their strategic mission for a competitive economy, a proactive foreign policy and becoming a regional energy hub, all of which will affect Turkey’s role in the world.
According to Lincong, the EU has shown by its treatment of Turkey’s bid for membership that it still cannot get beyond its narrow, exclusive and inward-looking characteristics and does not realize the importance of the acceptance of Turkey.
“Given the deep financial crisis in Europe, the members of the EU should know that they need Turkey much more; it is a chance for the development of the EU,” Lincong said.
Commenting on the importance Turkey attaches to the SCO with its recent announcement, Lincong said that for the past 10 years, Turkey has become more open and pays more attention to the East under its policy of balanced diplomacy, adding, “Turkey’s eastward-oriented strategy has created broad prospects for the development of the country.”
Turkey officially applied to the SCO for “dialogue partnership status” in March 2011, which was approved at the Council of Heads of State Summit in Beijing a few months later. Now, Turkey is waiting for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the SCO and Turkey as the third “dialogue partner,” following Belarus and Sri Lanka.