Ankara will not account for talks it held during the recent SCO summit, the Turkish president has said
Turkey has no obligation to report to the European Union after it took part in a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. Earlier, the Turkish leader revealed that Ankara is seeking to join the bloc, which includes Russia and China.
Speaking to PBS news outlet, Erdogan was asked to comment on Ankara's bid to join the organization, given that its members China, Russia and Iran are accused of professing values that apparently differ from those embraced by NATO and the West.
The Turkish leader said he doesn't want to choose between the East and the West, although he complained that the EU has so far refused to admit Ankara into the bloc.
"The European Union would keep us out for 52 years, it wouldn't let us near, and then they would say, 'Why did he talk with this country, or that country?'" he said, referring to the fact that Turkey has been seeking to join the bloc for decades without success.
Since 2016, negotiations on this issue have stalled, with the EU accusing Ankara of human rights violations and deficits in the rule of law. Turkey has denied these claims.
"While we are engaged in these negotiations, we are not going to report to the European Union at this point," Erdogan reiterated, adding that Ankara is willing to hold talks with every country in the world.
The Turkish president noted that he was ready to speak to many leaders, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin - even as Moscow conducts its military operation in Ukraine.
During the SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Saturday, Erdogan said Turkey was seeking to join the bloc. On the sidelines of the summit, he also met with Putin, who signaled that Moscow was ready "to significantly increase supplies to Turkey in all directions that are of interest [to the country]."
The two sides specifically agreed that 25% of payments for natural gas deliveries from Russia to Turkey will be paid in Russian rubles.
The SCO is an economic integration and trust-building alliance that was founded in 2001, and is now the world's largest regional bloc. Currently, the SCO incorporates China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, and, most recently, Iran. Turkey, along with a number of other countries, is recognized as a special 'dialogue partner' of the group.