Turkey Demands Answer on EU Membership, Visa Deal

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Turkey’s president on Saturday warned that his country had reached the endgame in its decadelong bid for European Union membership.

Speaking to lawmakers at the opening of the parliamentary session, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it is time for Brussels to decide whether it wants Ankara as a full member. Turkey is ready, he added.

Erdogan criticized the stalling of a visa liberalization deal, which was supposed to be finalized this month.

“This stance is a declaration that the European Union does not wish to keep the promise it made Turkey,” Erdogan said.

The promise is part of the deal with Ankara to stop thousands of migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. Erdogan told Brussels it needs to start allowing Turks visa-free travel to the European Union this month.

Erdogan also criticized the U.S. Congress for overriding President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill allowing victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. He called it unfortunate and said he expected it to be reversed as soon as possible.

Ankara and Riyadh have tightened their relations considerably in the past months as they pursue joint interests in Syria. Erdogan recently hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef for talks in his palace.

Turkey’s relations with the European Union and the United States have been strained in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkey has requested the extradition of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, maintaining that Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, masterminded the coup attempt by renegade officers in the military.

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EU officials have been among the most vocal critics of Turkey’s crackdown against the alleged coup plotters and their supporters.

– VOA

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