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Erdogan: Turkey 'has alternatives' to European Union

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said talks with alternative partners were underway [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 29 November, 2016

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The Turkish leader continues his open feud with the European Union days after the international body voted for a freeze on accession talks.
Turkey has other alternatives to the European Union but has not yet "closed the book" on the international body, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Erdogan's comments came after the European Union recommended freezing Turkish accession last week. He told a conference in Istanbul on Tuesday that discussions with alternative partners were underway and that, "we [Turkey] can continue our path with one of them".

The Turkish leader did not name who these partners were.

Last week, Erdogan suggested that Turkey could become part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – a Eurasian bloc dominated by China and Russia among others. He also said that EU membership was not something that Turkey would pursue "at all costs".

Following the European parliament's vote on Thursday to back a freeze in accession talks with Ankara, Erdogan has made several statements that have attempted to downplay the significance of the EU to Turkey.

The EU's rebuff was followed by a threat from Erdogan of extending Turkey's state of emergency by another three months. The state of emergency imposed after the 15 July failed coup bid has seen at least 37,000 people arrested, causing alarm in Brussels over the scale of the crackdown.

Turkey's president also reiterated his idea of reintroducing the death penalty – a proposal that the EU had previously said would imperil accession attempts.

Erdogan also threatened to throw Turkey's borders open for refugees to enter Europe if EU accession talks were suspended.

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