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Erdogan says Turkey hopes to turn new page with U.S. and EU in 2021

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President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey hopes to “turn a new page” in its ties with the United States and European Union, and that Ankara had been subjected to double standards by both its NATO ally Washington and the bloc.

This month Washington sanctioned Turkey over its acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defences, and the EU also prepared punitive measures over Turkey’s dispute with members Greece and Cyprus over Mediterranean offshore rights. The bloc decided to postpone the measures until March.

Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said “artificial agendas” tested Turkey’s ties with the EU and United States in 2020, but he hoped things would improve.

“Turkey is facing double standards both over the eastern Mediterranean and the S-400s. We want to turn a new page with the EU and United States in the new year,” Erdogan said.

“We don’t see our multilateral political, economic and military cooperation as an alternative to our deep-rooted ties with the United States. And we wish for the EU to rid itself of the strategic blindness that is distancing Turkey from it,” he added.

The U.S. sanctions come at a delicate moment in the fraught relations between Ankara and Washington as Democratic President-elect Joe Biden gears up to take office on Jan. 20, replacing Republican Donald Trump.

Ankara has condemned the sanctions as “grave mistake” and said it expects Biden to be more constructive in solving issues between the allies, ranging from differences over Syria policy to the S-400s.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey would not “bow down to the language of sanctions and blackmail”, but added that he believed Biden will show the “necessary importance” to Turkish-U.S. ties.

He also that a call by the European Court of Human Rights for the release of Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas was hypocritical and only Turkish courts can rule on his case.

Speaking to members of his ruling AK Party, Erdogan repeated his view that Demirtas is a terrorist responsible for the deaths of dozens in 2014 protests. He said the ECHR ruling was political.

The Grand Chamber of the ECHR ruled on Tuesday that Turkey must immediately release the former leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) after his more than four years in prison. It said the justification for his detention was a cover for limiting pluralism and political debate. 

Main Photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU

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