Both AK Party and CHP vow to bolster Turkey's ties with the EU, US
Turkey's ruling party and main opposition both remain committed to the country's European Union accession bid, but are divided over their reasons for seeking membership in the bloc, according to their respective electoral platforms. Joining the European Union is a "strategic goal," the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said in the foreign policy section of its election manifesto released last week. The AK Party will continue to take necessary steps to secure membership in the 27-member bloc "despite some European countries' unfair and unfounded opposition," the party said, adding that the government will continue to implement EU-mandated reforms since they "benefit our citizens." After years of strained relations with its putative ideological brothers in Europe, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) promised greater cooperation with the EU's social democratic parties on the road to Turkish membership. "Turkey will pave the way for Turkish-EU relations, which have reached a bottleneck, through improved discourse with European social democrats," the party said in its manifesto for the June 12 general elections. Ultimately, the goal of EU accession is "social transformation," the CHP said, adding that social democrats should unite under the EU umbrella. Together with its social democratic partners, the CHP will convince Europeans that Turkey's membership is the best way to refute the "clash of civilizations," the party said. The party added that it would work to ease tensions between Ankara and Washington, redefining ties in terms of "equality and mutual respect" for the benefit of both sides. Under former leader Deniz Baykal, the party had restricted dialogue with the US. For its part, the AK Party said it would continue to improve and strengthen constructive and comprehensive ties with the US, adding that boosting trade is one of its priorities.