Spain’s leftist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, during a state visit to Ankara, affirmed his commitment to Turkey’s accession to the European Union, describing the country as an “essential ally.”
During the official visit, Sánchez and Erdoğan signed a total of six agreements covering cooperation in renewable energy, responses to natural disasters, and sports. The two heads of state–Erodgan an Islamist and Sánchez a socialist–also discussed topics like migration and bilateral trade, the regional Huffington Post reports.
“We are united by a historic commitment that Turkey is part of the European Union,” Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, said during a joint press conference. “We are going to work together so that this agenda goes ahead.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, who has on several occasions has threatened to flood Europe with migrants, called on the European Union to take “concrete steps” to forge ties with Turkey, which has been an EU candidate country since 1999.
“We as Turkey have displayed our principled attitude and efforts in favor of dialogue and diplomacy with the aim of implementing a positive agenda,” Erdoğan said. “Henceforth, the European Union should approach its relations with our country from a strategic perspective, and take concrete steps,”
The Turkish leader, who during a four-day tour in Africa last month trashed European states as “colonizers,” said that he hopes to increase defense cooperation with Spain, a fellow NATO member, via the purchase of a second aircraft carrier and quite possibly a submarine.
Although Turkey has been an EU Candidate since 1999, and its accession negotiations started as far back as 2005, its candidacy for membership into the bloc has been effectively frozen.
Across the 27-member bloc, attitudes toward Turkey’s accession are varied. In the past, those most opposed to it joining the Union have been Austria, Germany, and Belgium. France and Denmark, however, are more ambivalent about Turkey’s membership. Others like Spain, Portugal, Italy, “Three Seas” states, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden have, at least in the past, been more open to Turkey’s EU accession.
In October, the European Commission published a report which noted that Turkey’s bid to join the bloc had essentially “come to a standstill,” citing an erosion of democracy overseen by Erdogan’s government.
“The EU’s serious concerns on the continued deterioration of democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights, and the independence of the judiciary have not been addressed. There was further backsliding in many areas,” the Commission’s report said.
“Under the current circumstances, Turkey’s accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill.”