Erdogan: Today the EU needs Turkey
In the framework of his formal visit to Czech Republic, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his Czech counterpart Petr Necas and after their tete-a-tete meeting, the two prime ministers held a joint press conference. Speaking to reporters, Erdogan said that delaying Turkey's EU membership for 59 years was neither forgivable nor bearable. In response to a question if the Shanghai Five was an alternative to the EU for Turkey, Erdogan said, "I bring up the issue of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Some people get bothered by this. Is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization an alternative to the EU? They are two separate entities. There is no reason for anyone to be bothered. EU member countries conduct trade with the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization successfully. Turkey will naturally be in all kinds of quest." Erdogan added that his visit to Brussels would have many dimensions, including the EU dimension and a Belgian dimension and that there were 35 chapters to be discussed. Referring to EU member countries, Erdogan underlined that the standards in many EU countries were not as equal of those Turkey reached within the EU acquis and that many EU countries have failed to reach Maastricht criteria. "The European Union should get strength from Turkey if it wants to be a global economic and political power. Today, the EU needs Turkey, not the other way round," Erdogan added. Touching on relations between Turkey and Czech Republic, Erdogan said that Turkey attached great importance to its bilateral relations with Czech Republic and considered the country as an important ally in the Euro-Atlantic area. For his part, Necas said that Czech Republic supported Turkey's EU membership once it fulfills the criteria.