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Turkey's leader: Does EU want us in the bloc, or not?

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and his host, Poland's President Andrzej Duda, right, wait before delivering statements to the media following talks that included Poland's support for Turkey's EU membership efforts at the presidential palace in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
October 17, 2017 - 10:55 AM

WARSAW, Poland - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged European Union leaders Tuesday to simply say whether or not they want to admit Turkey as an EU member.

"I would like to hear a clear declaration," Erdogan said on a visit to Poland. "If you want to accept Turkey, just do it. If you don't want to, just tell that."

Turkey's decades of efforts to join the 28-member European club appear to be stalled by the government's harsh reaction to a coup attempt last year. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested or dismissed from their jobs in Turkey since the July 15, 2016, coup attempt.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Poland backs Turkey's effort to join the EU.

"Poland has supported and supports today Turkey's efforts to join the European Union," Duda said as she stood alongside Erdogan. "Turkey is an especially important EU partner in the area of security."

Erdogan reminded his critics that over three million refugees from Syria and Iraq are in refugee camps in Turkey. He said his country has spent some 30 billion euros ($36 billion) to support them, while funds from an agreement with the European Union have so far totalled 885 million euros (about $1 billion.)

Duda said they had a "very long and honest" talk about the current situation in Turkey, but didn't provide details.

Erdogan was greeted in Poland with military honours earlier Tuesday. In an embarrassing diplomatic slipup, he missed making the customary bow before a banner as he walked by Poland's troops. Duda grabbed his elbow to make him return to the site.

Erdogan's planned meeting with Prime Minister Beata Szydlo was cancelled. Erdogan needed to be briefed about a mine collapse in southeast Turkey on Tuesday that killed at least six miners, Szydlo spokesman Rafal Bochenek, told The Associated Press

Earlier, Erdogan attended a Polish-Turkish business forum and urged businessmen to intensify ties between the two nations.

Poland's small opposition left-wing Together party said Erdogan shouldn't be received with state honours because his government is "violating human rights."

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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