"Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs EU"
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says European Parliament elections that saw right-wing parties strengthen indicate "the threat of growing racism in Europe."Source: Beta
Erdogan said these elections, which ended on Sunday, show that Turkey's long-standing concerns about racism and the increased number of racist attacks in Europe were "legitimate and correct."
He was addressing members of his ruling party in Turkey's parliament after the results showed that the extreme French National Front and other right-wing parties that stand against the European Union and immigration significantly strengthened.
Many of these parties are opposed to Turkish membership in the EU. Turkey has been a candidate to join the organization for 15 years - since 1999.
Erdogan said that Turkey's membership in the EU, as a country that is predominantly Muslim, would serve as cure for racism - and anti-Semitism - in Europe.
"Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU," said Erdogan.
Negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU started in 2005 but are barely making any progress, mainly because of Turkey's dispute with Cyprus, an EU member, and also due to the discomfort felt in the EU when it comes to accepting a country with a large population, of mostly Muslims.