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Turkey says it has 'other options' if EU closes its doors to membership

Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim has warned the EU that it has other alternatives to membership in the bloc. Yildirim did not name any options, but critics suspect Turkey could be hinting at closer relations with Russia.

"Turkey always has alternatives. Europe should not forget: too much coyness can make love fed up," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said during a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

"Turkey has been working for over half a century for its European Union membership and has done more than what it should. Now the decision is the EU's," he added.

Ankara formally launched its bid to enter the EU in 2005. Since then, only 16 chapters of the 35 chapter accession process have been opened.

Talks were sped up in March, when the two sides signed a multi-billion-dollar deal in which Turkey agreed to hold back migrants from Syria and Iraq who were planning to go to Europe. In return, Turkey demanded that its citizens be allowed to visit the Schengen Area without a visa.

Watch video 01:14

Turkey talks accession with European Union

However, negotiations on that front failed, with the EU demanding that Turkey change its draconian anti-terror laws - also a prerequisite for the country's membership in the EU.

Relations nosedived after the July 15 putsch to depose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with Turkey attacking Brussels for not showing much support after the coup bid. The EU also criticized Ankara for its crackdown on suspected coup plotters and supporters.

Tens of thousands of teachers, soldiers, police officers and employees in the judiciary have been arrested or fired from their jobs since then. Erdogan's government has also vowed to rid the country of Kurdish militancy in Turkey's south and southeast.

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mg/jlw (AFP, Reuters)

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