Turkish PM: Shanghai Five should not be considered alternative to EU

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) speaks with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R), during a ceremony marking the 78th anniversary of the death of founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, at the mausoleum of Anitkabir in Ankara, on November 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

In contrast with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s efforts to promote membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), also known as Shanghai Five, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said it should not be considered an alternative to the European Union, in the aftermath of the European Parliament’s vote to freeze accession talks with Turkey.

Speaking to Turkish media on Thursday evening, Yıldırım said cutting ties with Europe would harm Turkey. However, he also said that since Europe is stagnant at the moment, it is only natural for Turkey to develop relations with Asian countries such as China, India and Pakistan. “We don’t have to make a choice between the EU and Shanghai if the former does not work out,¨ the prime minister added, although Erdoğan said that Turkey should not insist on EU membership over the weekend on his way back from Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

Yıldırım argued that the EU decisions on Turkey do not reflect reality and that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, which Turkish government blames its symphatizers for plotting the failed coup in July, are “poisoning” the EU against Turkey.

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