Erdogan lashes out at EU over latest progress report
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the European Union for "slinging mud" at Turkey in its latest accession progress report and disparaged the bloc over its financial woes. Erdogan ruled out any dialogue with the EU if the Greek Cypriots take over its rotating presidency next year and argued that rectifying injustices against the Turkish Cypriots had now become a "matter of honor" for the bloc. "The progress report has once again shown the serious eclipse of reason at the EU. Turkey is closer to EU norms than ever and we all know why things are actually stuck," Erdogan said in a speech at his party's gathering at Kizilcahamam, near Ankara, at the weekend. "And their state of affairs is evident: they are crumbling, their currency is in disarray. But Turkey is up on its feet, and not thanks to them but to its own people," he said. Erdoğan pledged Turkey would stay on the path of reform, but said that abandoning the Turkish Cypriots will "not be the price we pay to overcome obstructions" in the accession process. Stressing that Greek Cyprus was granted membership despite rejecting a reunification plan at the 2004 referendum, Erdoğan said, "This problem is now a matter of honor for the EU. They will either implement their 2004 decision and open the door for trade with the Turkish Cypriots or will continue to spoil the Greek Cypriot side and live with this shame forever." Erdogan dismissed Greek Cyprus as "a country that is null and void for us," adding that, "the EU will fail to find Turkey for six months" if the Greek Cypriots take over the EU presidency in July despite the island's persisting division. Decrying a Greek Cypriot drive for gas drilling in the east Mediterranean, he warned that "those who claim unilateral ownership of the island's riches will see a multi-fold response by Turkey."