Turkish President Abdullah Gul has told European leaders that the EU needs his country as a member if it wants to remain a global force.
In an address to London-based think-tank Chatham House, Gul said the 27-nation bloc should see Turkish membership as “imperative”.
“It is sad to observe that some European leaders do not properly see the future of the world in the span of 20, 50, 70 years time,” Gul said.
“Given the fact that the international balance of power tends to shift towards the East and Asia, it is, indeed, a strategic imperative for the EU to have Turkey as a member.”
“This short-sighted vision is the major impediment before the idea of the EU as a global actor, capable of assuming greater responsibilities on political and security issues complementing its economic clout.”
Gul’s comments appear to be a veiled attack on France and Germany. The two countries oppose Turkey ever gaining full membership. They promote instead the idea of a “privileged partnership.”
Turkey began formal negotiations to join the European Union five years ago but talks have slowed over Ankara’s 36-year military presence in northern Cyprus.
The European Commission is set to release a progress report on Turkey’s bid for membership later on Tuesday. It is expected to criticise the speed of reforms to guarantee the freedom of the press.
The number of Turkish citizens in favour of EU membership has dropped from 48 percent in 2009 to 38 percent now, according to a German Marshall Fund poll published in September. The same survey found the rate of people against it rose from 22 to 31 percent.
That poll also reported that only 26 percent of Turks believe the country will ever join the EU. The year before the rate was 32 percent.