President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is in no position to comment on Türkiye’s relations with other nations, after the president rejected remarks the EU official reportedly made about Russian-Turkish ties.
“…Borrell cannot appoint or regulate our relations with Russia. He has neither the quality nor the capacity to make such a decision on these matters,” Erdogan told news agency Anadolu.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday on his way back from Turkmenistan, the Turkish president said Borrell’s position is on a par with Ankara’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, which made him unfit to pass judgment.
Erdogan was commenting on a letter that Borrell reportedly sent to the European Parliament to express the European Commission’s concerns about continued Turkish-Russian cooperation. The document was covered by the German media group Funke on Sunday.
Borrell lamented the fact that Türkiye was “not joining the EU’s restrictive measures against Russia,” according to the reports. He noted that Ankara could help Moscow dodge sanctions imposed by Brussels by allowing Türkiye to serve as an intermediary for trade in banned goods, adding that the EU should not allow that to happen. Erdogan called the purported remarks “repulsive.”
The Turkish government refused to join the US and its allies in their campaign to punish Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, serving instead as a key mediator between Moscow and Kiev, including in the UN-backed scheme that allows Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea.
Moscow has also backed a gas hub in Türkiye that serves southern Europe after EU nations cut trade, including natural gas supplied via pipelines, as part of anti-Russian sanctions.
Borrell and other top EU officials claimed that member states had a moral obligation to implement Brussel’s policies regardless of economic hardships they may suffer in the process.
During the same press conference, Erdogan expressed Türkiye’s wish to work together with Russia and Syria to mitigate threats of terrorism, which Ankara sees as emanating from northwestern parts of its neighbor.
“Our intelligence organizations should come together, then our defense ministers, and then our foreign ministers should meet,” the Turkish leader said, outlining future contact between the three nations.