I am writing in response to the commentary by Straits Times global affairs correspondent Jonathan Eyal, to reflect a broader picture to the points raised (Middle-power lessons from Turkey, April 13).
Turkey applied for full membership in the European Union in 1987 and was recognised by the EU as a candidate for full membership in 1999.
This remains a strategic goal for Turkey, as has been recently clearly emphasised at the highest levels.
That said, in the course of the past 22 years, we have increasingly witnessed that the accession process and the associated criteria could be misused, and the goal posts could be moved by certain EU members, in pursuit of their domestic political interests.
That remains the major obstacle before Turkey’s accession process to the EU.
Notwithstanding this, Turkey has always been open to engagement with the EU and encouraged the EU, as well as its members, to act in a more transparent, sincere and predictable manner.
In this spirit, Turkey has persistently remained engaged with the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, even during difficult times.
Against that backdrop, Turkey cannot be blamed for the situation in which the president of the European Commission found herself, and has nothing to gain from it.
In preparing the meeting, in line with the practices in place, the Turkish protocol followed the guidance provided by its counterparts.
Moreover, this unfortunate and inadvertent situation can be seen as neither a consequence nor a harbinger of difficulties between Turkey and the EU, as the commentary suggested.
Turkey has been the bulwark in the south-eastern corner of Europe against various challenges and threats directed at Europe, in particular, terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Our full membership in the EU would benefit EU members in several ways. This reality needs to be grasped by the EU and its members.
To that end, we will continue to encourage our EU counterparts for an all-weather strategic engagement, as originally foreseen in our accession process, while continuing efforts to fulfil the mutual commitments made.
The region in which Turkey is situated demands a multi-vectored foreign policy.
This does not mean that our full membership in the EU is not an alternative to our Nato membership.
The same holds true for our strategic partnership with the United States.
Due to the distinct national positions of our relevant allies, which fell short of meeting our national requirements, Turkey was left with no choice but to acquire the S-400 systems to ensure its air defence.
While this and the unilateral cancellation of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme as a retaliation, as well as threats of sanction by the US, have strained relations, Turkey remains determined to work closely with the US, to address outstanding difficulties, both bilaterally and in Nato, as two close and prominent allies.
Charge d’Affaires ad Interim
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey