Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Saturday marked the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, a proposal in 1950 that laid the groundwork for the European Coal and Steel Community — the forerunner to the European Union. Also known as Europe Day, the annual celebration was observed more conservatively due to the pandemic.
“We must make good use of the opportunities these tough days will present in order to revitalize the Turkey-EU relations. I hope that the EU, which has assumed a discriminative and exclusionist attitude toward our country on various issues to this date, has now understood that we are all [in] the same boat,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement to commemorate the day.
In the absence of a ceremony, the Parc Cinquantenaire raised a banner with a message of unity and thanks to those fighting the pandemic. The message read: “#EuropeDay #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus #StrongerTogether.”
“The ideas behind the Schuman Declaration had ensured the rebirth of Europe from its own ashes after a war that tore apart the whole world and the gathering together of countries for peace, security, development and welfare, casting aside their differences and animosities,” Erdogan continued.
However, he also took the opportunity to once again bid for membership in the EU, drawing comparisons between the pandemic and the calamity of World War II.
“This tiny enemy invisible to the eye has reminded us once again the meaning of ‘being united,’ being strong in unity, which we have risked to forget in the recent period; which we became ready to sacrifice for populist policies and short-term national interests,” he added.
Turkey has struggled with the pandemic, reacting slowly to the crisis and denying it before introducing partial measures. As of Saturday, Turkey is the ninth most infected nation with 137,115 confirmed cases.
Turkey first signed a Customs Union Agreement with the EU in 1995; four years later, the EU recognized Turkey as a candidate for full membership.
Negotiations did not start until 2005, with progress stagnated for years, largely due to Turkey’s many human rights violations and deficits in “rule of law.”
The Delegation of the European Union to Turkey later thanked Erdogan in a statement. following his remarks.
“We have received the EU Day Message of His Excellency President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” it said.