Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the European Union is not accepting Turkey into the bloc because Turkey is a Muslim country, Turkish media reported.
“I am now revealing the reason why they [the EU] is not taking Turkey in. I am saying it openly, there is only one reason: We are Muslim, they won’t take us because we are Muslim,” Erdoğan said in an interview in a joint program on pro-government TV stations ATV and A Haber.
Turkey began negotiations for full membership in the EU in 2005. Progress was slow, and out of the 35 chapters necessary to complete the accession process only 16 had been opened and one had been closed by May 2016.
Since 2016 when Turkey experienced a failed coup attempt in July and the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on mostly ordinary citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, accession negotiations have stalled.
The EU has accused and criticized Turkey for human rights violations and deficits in the rule of law.
During the interview, Erdoğan also talked about the long queues in front of municipal produce stands established by the Turkish government to sell produce at lower prices in the wake of skyrocketing food prices, and said they are a sign of wealth.
Since the beginning of the week Turkish media outlets have covered the sale of fruits and vegetables from these stands and the long queues that form in front of them.
Some Turks who spoke to various news outlets while waiting in line expressed satisfaction with the fact that they can get food at relatively cheap prices although they sometimes have to wait for hours, while others criticized the government for taking the country back decades when people had to stand in a queue for hours to get oil or gas.
“There are two types of queues. One is a queue of poverty, the other is a queue of wealth. We experienced the queues of poverty during the governments of the CHP [main opposition Republican People’s Party]. There were queues to get oil and margarine,” said Erdoğan.
Erdoğan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power since 2002, has on many occasions criticized former governments of the CHP for making people wait in lines to get gas, sugar and oil.
Erdoğan blames wholesalers and retailers for the high food prices in the country.