By Ilkay Guder
Turkey has called on the European Union to be “more inclusive” towards other countries in the region after the U.K., which has the second largest economy in the EU, voted to leave the bloc on Friday.
“We support continuation of a stronger [European] Union in the future. This is an important issue for peace in Europe and stability in the region,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters in Ankara on Friday.
Yildirim said the European Union should “not alienate itself” from other regional countries and have a more “inclusive vision” in the future.
He said the Brexit vote revealed “dissatisfaction” among EU member states over the bloc’s inclusiveness.
“Turkey has been working and moving on the road to the European Union for years. We already shared our observations and determinations on this [issue] on several occasions with the various decision-making bodies of the union,” Yildirim said.
Turkey began its EU accession talks in 2005. Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal on March 18, which aims to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets 72 requirements set by the EU.
Although Turkey fulfilled most of the criteria last month, differences between Brussels and Ankara on anti-terror legislation have forestalled the visa-liberalization deal.
* Anadolu Agency Correspondent Handan Kazanci contributed to this report from Istanbul.