ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) — Turkey would be acting “much more freely” if it joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) led by Russia and China, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In an interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet published on Sunday, Erdogan said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin expressed “consideration” for an application by Turkey to the SCO which is better known as the Shanghai Pact or the Shanghai Five.
Putin and Erdogan made up last summer after half a year of animosity over the late 2015 Turkish shootdown of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border.
Erdogan signaled 2016 could spell the end of his country’s membership bid to the European Union (EU), saying his government would “have patience” until the end of the year.
“I told this to those in the Shanghai Five, to Mr. Putin and [President of Kazakhstan Nursultan] Nazarbayev. Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and India joined the SCO,” Erdogan told Hurriyet, adding the Islamic Republic of Iran wanted to join the club too.
Erdogan who was returning from Uzbekistan, a member of the SCO, said his country could also end its membership bid to the EU which kept “stalling us for the last 53 years.”
The EU and the once hopeful candidate Turkey have come to crossroads in the last few years over a refugee crisis stemming from Syria, and an increasingly authoritarian rule by Erdogan’s government on media and the Kurdish opposition.
Turkish-EU relations have particularly been strained by arrest and imprisonment of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yuksekdag, and eight other lawmakers.
As a result, the EU officials including the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and EU’s rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri have threatened Turkey with a freeze of accession talks and economic sanctions.
Erdogan had previously declared disregard to EU statements about developments in Turkey.
The Turkish President described the Brexit, United Kingdom's departure from the EU, as a “beautiful correlation,” adding there were calls for the same scenario in France and Italy.
Erdogan once again accused European nations of supporting terrorism for letting Kurdish and Turkish dissenters hold demonstrations there.
“Terrorists are moving freely in Germany, France, and Belgium. But they don’t care,” said Erdogan who went on criticizing the EU’s understanding of human rights and freedom of expression.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany