"Turkey will continue its efforts to join the European Union, despite the actions of those who are trying to force it out of the European community. Without Turkey’s full-fledged membership, all EU efforts to ensure its declared values are doomed to failure. The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the bloc," Erdogan said at a meeting of the group on the implementation of reforms in Ankara.
According to him, Turkey has fulfilled 66 out of 72 criteria put forward by the European Union as a condition for the introduction of a visa-free regime, and further steps will be taken in the near future to fulfill the remaining six criteria.
The bilateral talks stalled in 2016 following an attempted coup in Turkey, which was suppressed by the authorities, who introduced a state of emergency in the country and proceeded to purges of tens of thousands of people accused of being involved in the coup. The European Union condemned the Turkish authorities' tough measures toward the opposition, including mass detentions, which became another stumbling block in the accession talks.
In 1963, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Economic Community, the European Union's predecessor. In 1987, Ankara filed an application to become an official member of the bloc, however, the negotiations between the two sides did not begin until 2005.