Erdogan calls on EU for dialogue, says Turkey’s future in Europe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached out to the European Union Saturday, while warning the bloc against being manipulated amid escalating tensions over the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s deployment of a vessel to search for natural gas in waters claimed by Greece set off a fierce war of words between Ankara and EU member states, who early this month extended sanctions against Ankara for another year.

The measures include visa bans and asset freezes against individuals involved in contested gas exploration in the Mediterranean.

“We expect the EU to keep its promises, not to discriminate against us or at least not to become a tool to open enmities targeting our country,” Erdogan said in a video address to his ruling party congress.

At one point Turkey had pursued a track towards EU membership, but it encountered opposition from several EU members and has pulled back under Erdogan’s leadership.

But on Saturday he said: “We don’t see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe. We envisage building our future together with Europe.”

Turkey has no problem with any country or institution “that cannot be resolved through politics, diplomacy or dialogue,” he added.

Erdogan’s message comes as EU leaders are to decide at a December summit whether to impose further sanctions in response to recent Turkish activity.

(With input from AFP)