AA News News from member agencies

Turkish president reaffirms commitment to EU membership

The Turkish president on Thursday reaffirmed Türkiye’s commitment to become a member of the European Union, describing it as the country’s “strategic goal.”

“Full membership in the European Union is our strategic goal. It is in our common interest for the EU to approach Türkiye from a similar perspective,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a joint news conference with his Estonian counterpart Alar Karis in Ankara.

Türkiye applied for EU membership in 1987 and has been a candidate country since 1999. Membership negotiations started in 2005 but entered into a stalemate after 2007 due to the Cyprus problem and opposition by several member states.

Touching on global and regional issues, Erdogan said the massacres in Gaza, where Israel has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, 2023, threaten not only regional stability but also global security.

The Turkish leader said permanent peace can only be achieved through a two-state solution, and the international community must now weigh in.

Speaking of the Ukraine war, which began in February 2022, Erdogan said a fair solution to the conflict is possible through diplomacy, but initiatives excluding Russia will not yield results.

Türkiye-Estonia ties

Erdogan said he and Karis affirmed their commitment to enhancing Türkiye-Estonia relations during their talks, discussing joint steps to be taken in this direction.

He highlighted the potential for the two countries to further their collaboration in all fields, saying: “We can increase our trade volume, which has reached $429 million in 2023, and mutual investments even further.”

He said the first meeting of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee established last year will be held in Türkiye soon, setting a new roadmap for economic and commercial relations.

As NATO allies, Erdogan said, the two countries should also increase existing cooperation in the defense industry.

“We consider the diversification of our relations, from science and technology to education, culture, and tourism as significant investments,” he said.

Erdogan also highlighted Estonia’s global importance in digital transformation, digital applications, and cyber defense, emphasizing discussions on sharing experience in these areas.

“I sincerely believe that our close bilateral relations and our solidarity within NATO will continue to strengthen on solid foundations,” the Turkish president said.