Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey has other plans if EU membership talks fail.
In an interview with the BBC’s HARDtalk program aired on Wednesday, Erdogan said it would even be a relief the bloc made it clear that it would not happen.
"We are loyal to our word. If the EU bluntly says 'We will not be able to accept Turkey into the EU' this will be comforting for us. We will then initiate our plan B, and C," he said.
Erdogan underlined that the EU was not "indispensable" for Turkey, which he said "is able to stand on its own two feet" with a per capita income of more than $11,000.
Asked whether he personally believed that Turkey would be better out of the EU, Erdogan said Turkish people’s opinion of the bloc had changed over time.
"The majority of the Turkish people don’t want the EU anymore. They don’t think the EU’s approach to Turkey is sincere," he said.
He accused the EU of wasting Turkey's time.
"Once upon a time when I was in my first term as prime minister, Turkey was being described as a country which has accomplished a silent revolution during European Union leaders' summits. But now the same EU not only doesn't invite us to the leaders' summits any more – they also waste our time. This is the situation right now," he said.
Nonetheless, Turkey will continue its efforts for the EU membership "for a little more time," he added. "We will see what that brings for us."
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
Negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 because Turkey’s refused to concede its position on Cyprus. The EU did not accept Turkey as a member claiming that Turkey had failed to meet the reforms the EU had demanded in 2007 and 2013/4. The German and French governments also opposed the country’s full EU membership.
To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
State of emergency may be lifted
Erdogan said that Turkey's state of emergency might be lifted in the near future. "FETO cases are becoming clear now. We also got a long way in our fight against PKK," he said.
Erdogan spoke at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges' (TOBB) meeting in Ankara as part of July 15 anniversary events on Wednesday to an audience made up mostly of foreign NGOs, investors and businessmen.
He said that the state of emergency was a necessary measure to fight terror in the country until now and it could soon be lifted, if there was no longer a need for it.
He stated that Turkey's economy and democracy were on the rise despite the coup attempt last year.
Throughout the week, there will be events across Turkey as part of the commemoration of the July 15 coup attempt.
According to the Turkish government, the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the failed coup of July 15, 2016, which killed 249 people and injured nearly 2,000 others.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.