ANKARA: Turkey has appreciated the European Union’s efforts to include Ukraine in the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said and urged Brussels to show the same sensitivity for Turkey’s accession process.
Asked about Ukraine’s bid for European Union membership at a joint news conference with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani in the capital Ankara, Erdoğan said Turkey, an EU candidate for decades, would support any enlargement of NATO and the EU.
“We appreciate the efforts to get Ukraine EU membership. But I ask the EU members, why does Turkey’s membership in the EU worry you?” he said.
He called on the bloc to show the “same sensitivity” it showed for Kyiv’s membership bid for Turkey’s application, and slammed member states for being “not sincere.”
“Will you put Turkey on your agenda when someone attacks (us) too?” he said.
On Monday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for Ukraine’s “immediate accession” to the EU.
“We call on the European Union for the immediate accession of Ukraine under a new special procedure,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the nation.
Turkey is a candidate to join the EU but its accession talks have been stalled over a number of issues. Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987, and accession talks began in 2005. But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections from the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.
On Tuesday, European Parliament adopted a resolution demanding EU candidacy for Ukraine a day after eight countries in the bloc — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia — expressed their support for Zelenskyy’s call.
The president also once again called on Ukraine and Russia to immediately stop fighting and to “contribute to world peace.”
“Our call on both Russia and Ukraine is for them to cease their fire as soon as possible,” Erdoğan said, calling on both Moscow and Kyiv to “make a good contribution to world peace.”
Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey, which has the second-largest army within the alliance, supports NATO’s expansion.
NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia and has good ties with both. Under a 1936 pact, Ankara on Monday said it was closing its Black Sea straits during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, limiting the passage of some Russian ships from the Mediterranean.
Since Russia’s war on Ukraine began last Thursday, it has been met by outrage from the international community, with the EU, United Kingdom, and the United States implementing a range of economic sanctions on Russia.
So far, at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, have been killed and 400 others, including 26 children, injured in Ukraine, according to U.N. figures.
Around 660,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.
On possible NATO membership for Kosovo, Erdoğan said Ankara would take steps to get the Balkan nation recognized as a NATO member.
“We’ve always advocated and still advocate that it would be advantageous to enlarge NATO,” adding that Turkey wanted this “for world peace.”
For her part, Osmani said that witnessing the Russia-Ukraine war, her country now believes “it is time for Kosovo to join NATO.”
She noted that Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo when it declared independence in 2008, adding that Ankara has a “very important” role in NATO and thanking Erdoğan for his support.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkey and Kosovo signed three cooperation agreements, including on forests and sports.