Amid EU concerns over the state of democracy in Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed for Turkey’s EU membership bid on Monday in his first visit to Brussels in 5 years.
Erdogan’s trip comes after top EU officials expressed their worries on the independence of the Turkish judiciary system and the lack of media freedom.
‘We are concerned, as many others in the EU, about recent events in Turkey. We have followed the events closely (…) Prime Minister Erdo?an, in a very frank and open manner, addressed all the issues and gave us reassurances of his intention to fully respect the rule of law, the independence of judiciary and, generally speaking, the separation of powers.’ said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Earlier in December, the Turkish Prime Minister sacked prosecutors and police officers that tried to investigate a corruption case in which people close to him were involved.
He dubbed the scandal a “judicial coup” meant to undermine him ahead of elections.
‘All democratic countries believe in the importation of the separation of powers. This is applied diligently. As far as the rule of law is concerned, the countries respecting democracy have never had problem with that.’ said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
EU ministers agreed to resume accession talks with Turkey last November after a three year break.
Negotiations were put on hold after the EU accused Turkish police of using excessive force against anti-government protests earlier last year.
Ankara began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying.