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Fed up with EU, Erdogan says Turkey could join Shanghai bloc

Updated Nov 20, 2016 04:42pm

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President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Sunday as saying that Turkey did not need to join the European Union “at all costs” and could instead become part of a security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations.

Nato member Turkey's prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever after 11 years of negotiations. European leaders have been critical of its record on democratic freedoms, while Ankara has grown increasingly exasperated by what it sees as Western condescension.

“Turkey must feel at ease. It mustn't say 'for me it's the European Union at all costs'. That's my view,” Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling reporters on his plane on the way back from a visit to Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

“Why shouldn't Turkey be in the Shanghai Five? I said this to (Russian President) Mr Putin, to (Kazakh President) Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai Five now,” he said.

“I hope that if there is a positive development there, I think if Turkey were to join the Shanghai Five, it will enable it to act with much greater ease.”

China, Russia and four Central Asian nations ─ Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan ─ formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Turkish membership of the SCO, which had initially not included Uzbekistan and been known as the Shanghai Five, would be likely to alarm Western allies and fellow Nato members.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages, and Ankara signed up in 2013 as a “dialogue partner” saying it shared “the same destiny” as members of the bloc.

Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are SCO observers, while Belarus, like Turkey, is a dialogue partner.

Dialogue partners are entitled to take part in ministerial-level and some other meetings of the SCO, but do not have voting rights.

Erdogan last week urged Turks to be patient until the end of the year over relations with Europe and said a referendum could be held on EU membership in 2017.

The EU is treading a fine line in relations with Turkey: it needs Ankara's continued help in curbing a huge flow of migrants, especially from Syria, but is alarmed by Turkey's crackdown on opponents since a failed coup attempt in July.

Erdogan warns Nato on sheltering 'terrorist' plotters

Erdogan warned Nato against sheltering “terrorist” soldiers after Turkish officers in the alliance's command reportly sought asylum after a failed putsch.

“How can a terrorist, a terrorist soldier, a soldier who has been involved in plotting a coup, be employed in Nato?” Erdogan told journalists on a plane from Uzbekistan, the Milliyet newspaper reported. “They cannot do such a thing,” he said.

On Friday, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said a number of Turkish officers serving in Nato command positions had requested asylum following the botched coup on July 15.

Neither Stoltenberg nor Erdogan provided a number, although Erdogan said it was not high.

Erdogan said his government demanded that soldiers who asked for asylum be extradited and warned the alliance against providing them with a haven.

“Nato cannot entertain accepting asylum requests of this kind. Those in question are accused of terror,” he said.

Stoltenberg said the Nato countries concerned would make their own asylum decisions rather than the alliance headquarters in Brussels.

“We would be wrong if we started to go into that kind of legal issue; that's for the judicial system” of the countries concerned, Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg is due to meet Monday with Erdogan on the margins of a Nato meeting in Istanbul.

Erdogan has accused western powers of failure to show solidarity in the aftermath of the coup bid, which he blames on rogue elements in the army led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

He has angrily batted away criticism of his crackdown against alleged plotters.

Within the military, 9,300 army personnel have been arrested, including 118 generals and admirals, while thousands more have been discharged dishonourably or suspended.

More than 110,000 people have been sacked or suspended since the abortive putsch, and some 36,000 arrested. Media outlets have also been shut down.

The government says the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the threat to the state from the events of July 15, in which more than 240 people were killed.

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Comments (21) Closed



sam Nov 20, 2016 04:48pm

world is changing and it will change

M.Saeed Nov 20, 2016 04:53pm

Aftermath of coup plot is always harsh and democratic leader has his right to protect and implement the will of a democratic majority.

S. A. M. Nov 20, 2016 04:57pm

it looks like Erdogan is bent upon reversing all progress made by modern Turkey.

kalia Nov 20, 2016 04:59pm

Good move by PM...

M.Saeed Nov 20, 2016 05:07pm

Never interfere in the internal affairs of a friendly country.

Ths Nov 20, 2016 05:29pm

Coup was staged by Erdogan himself.

Javed Nov 20, 2016 05:30pm

Turkey practically gave up on her bid to join EU, the day it voted Erdogan into power. Frankly, I believe it is a gain for the Muslim world.

A. Mangal Nov 20, 2016 06:31pm

@S. A. M. Not so! It's the interest of his people that he need to look after not obtrusive political bocks which does nothing but geared to invade another weak nation.

Lost cause Nov 20, 2016 06:40pm

It seems this man has learnt a lot during visit to Pakistan. He wants to move away from modernity into ancient civilisation of Otman Empire. Wishing him all the success.

Haider Nov 20, 2016 06:43pm

UK is out of EU after so.many years of staying together. Why would Turks feel confortable joining a failing block. Look at Greece! What it gained from EU?

AKB Nov 20, 2016 06:46pm

Good news and it will be a positive step if Turkey becomes part of security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Nov 20, 2016 08:16pm

Good decision.

Puthomadre, karachi Nov 20, 2016 11:15pm

If you go the way you been, there is no hope of EU membership ever.

nooneabovethelaw Nov 21, 2016 01:08am

@ S.A.M - Turkey has done in 10 years of Erdogan's rule what it could not achieve in the last fifty and it has its social fabric restored as well. No matter what bloc you belong to, it cannot be denied that Erdogan is a popular leader the way the common way came out into the street to defend his rule. One who sides with Turkey's army rather than the people of Turkey, does not believe in the power of the people.

sajed syed Nov 21, 2016 04:47am

Sour grapes. As long as Erdogan is at the helm of affairs and Turkey on a path to Islamisation, it shall forget EU membership and may be it will be forced to quit Nato as well.

Turkey under Erdogan does not qualify to be a member of a liberal, secular world.

turd shifter Nov 21, 2016 05:52am

Why would the EU care whether Turkey becomes part of the Shanghai Bloc? As I recall both Pakistan and India are schedule to become members - you don't see the EU getting upset at that.

Ahmad Zubair Nov 21, 2016 07:16am

Good move. Returning to roots

anony Nov 21, 2016 07:54am

A true muslim leader and a role model.

Long live Pak-Turkey friendship.

planettrekker Nov 21, 2016 08:07am

Guess even the bad boys have a place they can find refuge - this time with their fellow oppressors and think-a-likes. Poor Erdogan. Looking for friends in all the wrong places.

Podmari Nov 21, 2016 10:26am

His patience is very low. Must learn to wait even if things are not looking positive now. Such aggressive stance might impact the countries interest in the long run. You are powerful in your country, but not the world. EU might be down today, but under estimating them will be a huge mistake i think.

A. Mangal Nov 21, 2016 06:58pm

@ Ths . And you were insider!