Turkey's leader: Does EU want us in the bloc, or not?

AP News
Posted: Oct 17, 2017 12:02 PM
Turkey's leader: Does EU want us in the bloc, or not?

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged European Union leaders on Tuesday to simply say whether they want to accept Turkey as a member or not.

"I would like to hear a clear declaration," Erdogan said on a visit to Poland. "If you want to accept Turkey, just do it. If you don't want to, just tell that."

Turkey's decades of efforts to join the 28-member European club appear to be stalled by the government's harsh reaction to a coup attempt last year. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested or dismissed from their jobs in Turkey since the July 15, 2016, coup attempt.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Poland backs Turkey's effort to join the EU.

"Poland has supported and supports today Turkey's efforts to join the European Union," Duda said as she stood alongside Erdogan. "Turkey is an especially important EU partner in the area of security."

Duda said they had a "very long and honest" talk about the current situation in Turkey, but didn't provide details.

Erdogan was greeted in Poland with military honors earlier Tuesday. In an embarrassing diplomatic slipup, Erdogan missed a customary bow before a banner as he walked before Poland's troops, and Duda had to grab his elbow to make him return to the site.

Erdogan's planned meeting with Prime Minister Beata Szydlo was canceled. Her spokesman Rafal Bochenek told The Associated Press it was because Erdogan needed to be briefed about a mine collapse in southeast Turkey on Tuesday that killed at least six miners.

Earlier, Erdogan attended a Polish-Turkish business forum and urged businessmen to intensify ties between the two nations.

Poland's small opposition left-wing Together party said Erdogan shouldn't be received with state honors because his government is "violating human rights."