Turkey's EU bid treated 'unfairly': Erdogan

3rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Turkey has been treated "unfairly" by the European Union in its drive to join the bloc, Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan told German daily Bild in an interview published Thursday.

Erdogan told the top-selling newspaper on a visit to Berlin for celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the programme bringing Turkish "guest workers" to Germany that powerful EU members were determined to torpedo Ankara's bid.

"Turkey is being treated unfairly," he said.

"Since I became prime minister (in 2003), the EU has admitted 12 countries, even the Greek part of Cyprus. And since Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and French President (Nicolas) Sarkozy have been in power, we aren't even invited to EU summits."

Due to the "guest worker" programme, which transformed the face of German society, some three million Turks or Germans of Turkish origin now reside in this country of 82 million, representing its largest ethnic minority.

Erdogan argued Wednesday at an anniversary ceremony with Merkel that as a result, Germany had an obligation to strongly back Ankara's membership ambitions.

Merkel largely sidestepped the call and has advocated a "privileged partnership" for Turkey with EU, an alliance which would fall short of membership.

Tensions between Turkey and the EU escalated in September in a dispute over gas exploration off the coast of Cyprus, prompting Erdogan to issue a threat to freeze relations with the EU in the second half of 2012, when Nicosia will hold the bloc's presidency.

© 2011 AFP

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