Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987, and its accession talks began in 2005. But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections of the Greek Cypriot Administration, as well as opposition from Germany and France.

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, August 21, 2020
European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, August 21, 2020 (Reuters)

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has stressed that developments in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean have affected Turkey's relations with the EU and that it should see how valuable Turkey would be as a full member of the bloc.

"We expect the EU to acknowledge its mistakes and understand the value that Turkey’s membership will add to the union. If that happens, we believe that a more productive relationship can be established for both parties," Cavusoglu said in the Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday.

Some member countries bring their bilateral problems with Turkey to the EU, he said, adding that those countries are using a "membership solidarity mask" against Turkey.

Most countries see the importance of dialogue with Turkey for Europe's stability, Cavusoglu said, adding that he desired Turkey's EU contacts to forge constructive dialogue on the matter.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and its accession talks began in 2005. But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections of the Greek Cypriot Administration, as well as opposition from Germany and France.

Brussels failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey deal to help refugees and stem further waves.

Turkey currently hosts over 3.6 million Syrians, making it the world's top refugee-hosting country.

Eastern Mediterranean

Cavusoglu also commented on controversial steps taken in the eastern Mediterranean against Turkey and Turkish Cypriots, reiterating calls for dialogue to solve the dispute.

"But contrary to our call, we faced exclusionary and provocative steps. Therefore, we have taken the initiative in the field to protect our rights without closing the door to dialogue," said Cavusoglu.

"The reason for the deadlock that has been going on for more than half a century in Cyprus is the irreconcilable and distorted mentality of the Greek side. This mentality considers the Turkish Cypriots not equal partners but a minority and wants to share neither power nor the natural resources of the island," he added.

Turkey is working with the EU to set up a proposed conference on the eastern Mediterranean.

Stressing that Greece has stepped up pressure on ethnic Turks living in the Western Thrace region, he noted that Turkey will continue to protect the rights of its compatriots.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's unlawful efforts to halt Turkish energy exploration and declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores. 

Turkey has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

Ankara says energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Greek Cypriot Administration, the southern part of the island.

US relations under Biden

Cavusoglu said that despite some differences over such issues as Syria and Libya, Turkey tries to act in consultation and coordination with its NATO ally, the US.

The recent US elections and its political polarisation made dialogue to overcome Turkey's problems more difficult, he added.

"Elections were held in the US. We will make the necessary effort to put relations back on a positive track based on the strategic interest of both countries," he said.

Turkey sees it important to turn a new page in economic, political, and security cooperation.

Former vice president Joe Biden has been widely recognised as the winner of November’s presidential elections – including by Turkey – despite legal challenges by outgoing President Donald Trump.

Upper Karabakh

Turkey also launched proactive diplomatic mobilisation as tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia rose in the Upper Karabakh region, in the wake of a truce ending hostilities there.

"We also support the agreement, which is accepted by Azerbaijan, as it contains elements that can lead to a permanent solution," he said, adding that the pact confirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

Turkey believes the agreement will benefit the whole region and Armenia in the medium and long term, he said, adding that Turkey will be in the field to help implementation of the truce at the request of Azerbaijan.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

After new clashes erupted on Sept 27, the Armenian army continued attacks on civilians alongside violating humanitarian ceasefire agreements.

Baku liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the Armenian occupation during the 44-day conflict.

On Nov 10, the two countries signed a Russia-brokered agreement to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan, and a defeat for Armenia.

Source: AA