ANKARA (Reuters) - The European Union is making serious mistakes in its response to Turkey’s failed coup and is losing support for EU membership from Turks as a result, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
In an interview with the state-run Anadolu agency, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia was not meant as a message to the West. However, he said if the West “loses” Turkey it will be because of its own mistakes, not Ankara’s good ties with Russia, China or the Islamic world.
His comments reflect the deep frustration in Turkey over the perception that Europe and the United States have given lukewarm support to Ankara after the failed July 15 coup, when a faction of the military commandeered tanks and warplanes in an attempt to topple the government.
“Unfortunately the EU is making some serious mistakes. They have failed the test following the coup attempt,” he said in the interview, which was broadcast live.
“Support for EU membership used to be around 50 percent of the population, I assume it is around 20 percent now,” he said.
Turkey has been incensed by what it sees as Western concern over its post-coup crackdown, but indifference to the bloody putsch itself, where more than 240 people were killed, many of them civilians.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday took a big step toward normalising relations with Russia, meeting President Vladimir Putin in a visit to St Petersburg, his first foreign trip since the failed putsch.
The visit was closely watched in the West, where some fear that both men, powerful leaders critics say are ill-disposed to dissent, might use their rapprochement to exert pressure on Washington and the European Union and stir tensions within NATO, the military alliance of which Turkey is a member.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Nick Tattersall and David Dolan; editing by Patrick Markey