Erdogan: Turkey 'tired' of European Union membership process

In one of the latest cases, Turkish prosecutors in December sought life sentences for three veteran journalists accused of links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says orchestrated the failed bid to oust Erdogan.

Macron had pledged to raise human rights concerns ahead of Erdogan's visit, one of only a handful he has made to Europe as relations with the West soured in the wake of the post-coup crackdown.

Earlier during his day-long trip, Erdogan had met French President Emanuel Macron and also addressed a joint news conference.

Last year, a referendum also granted Mr Erdogan sweeping new powers - further straining his country's relationship with the EU.

Erdogan unleashed a series of insults at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, accusing European officials of racism, harboring terrorists and behaving like Nazis.

The Turkish president said that despite the fact that the Turkey-EU process began decades ago, the country was not granted membership.

"Unfortunately, we did the first steps in 1963".

OZAN KOSE

Turkey first submitted its European Union - then EEC - accession application in 1987, but the two parties remain divided on several fronts, including human rights issues.

"If sensitivity regarding these remains missing, I believe it will cause problems, tomorrow", Erdogan said.

Macron and Erdogan also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the fight against terror and the war in Syria.

The two nations signed defence, banking and commercial deals, including the sale of 25 Airbus A330s to Turkish Airlines.

Turkey has been seeking to join the European Union for decades, but leaders both at home and in Europe have expressed increasing doubts over the progress following mass arrests and sackings after the failed coup in 2016.

About 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 others removed from public sector jobs in Turkey.

Protests over deteriorating press freedoms and human rights abuses in Turkey greeted Erdogan upon his arrival. Around 30 activists from watchdog group Reporters Without Borders waved pictures of jailed journalists outside the Turkish Embassy. A dozen demonstrators, mainly ethnic Kurds, later tried to reach the presidential Elysee palace, but police pushed them back.



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