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Erdogan Blasts EU For Keeping Turks 'Waiting At The Door,' Says 'Game' Over

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used a major speech to his country's lawmakers to press the European Union to clarify its position on eventual Turkish membership and follow through on a perceived pledge to let Turks travel visa-free by this month in exchange for help stemming the flow of migrants.

Eyed with suspicion in the West as he appears to crack down on civil liberties in the wake of a failed coup, Erdogan came out swinging in the October 1 address to the opening session of the Turkish parliament.

"If the EU is going to make Turkey a full member, we are ready. But they should know that we have come to the end of the game," he said in the televised speech.

He said it was no time to "beat around the bush or engage in diplomatic acrobatics," and he accused the EU of keeping Turkey's 80 million or so citizens of "waiting at the door for 53 years" since early talk of possible Turkish membership.

Formal talks began in 2005 and have stalled over political concerns as well as a lack of progress on legal and other harmonization issues.

Turkish and EU leaders agreed a complex deal in March that Europeans hoped would curb massive migration flows into Europe in exchange for billions in aid to Ankara, fast-track visa conditions, and possible new impetus for EU membership talks.

But with concerns on the continent high over Islamist-fueled terror attacks, EU members already reluctant to see large numbers of foreigners on their territory are eager for Turkey to tighten its definition of terrorism first.

Erdogan said the foot-dragging on visa liberalization represents "a declaration that the European Union does not wish to keep the promise it made Turkey."

Based on reporting by AFP and AP