STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday his country won't accept anything but full EU membership and that it has "unlimited" patience to fulfill that goal.
During a visit to Sweden, Erdogan said he cannot comment on the impact a new court case against his Islamic-rooted party will have on Turkey's negotiations with the EU, but that he will continue to work toward EU membership with the same eagerness and enthusiasm as before.
Erdogan said the court would fulfill its "legal obligations" while his party fights to "maintain the democratic and political stability" in Turkey.
"The constitutional court will mind its own business and we will mind our own business," he said, adding the government is reviewing its strategic options and expects to come up with a "road map" soon.
Turkey's Constitutional Court said Monday that it would consider prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya's thesis that Erdogan's Islamic-oriented Justice and Development Party should be disbanded for undermining the Constitution's secular ideals.
Erdogan said Turkey's "patience is unlimited" when it comes to negotiations with the EU, but that it won't accept any alternative to full membership.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he prefers an EU partnership with Turkey rather than full membership.
However, Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said his government will push for the EU to open further chapters in the negotiation for Turkey's membership.
"The Swedish starting point is to consistently point out that the promise that negotiations should end in full membership still apply and should be respected," he said.
Reinfeldt said the wide support enjoyed by Erdogan's governing party in Turkey is an important basis for the faith in the government's possibility to carry on the EU process.
"Of course we are very worried that something is now happening which will slow down the pace and reduce the possibility to pursue the mandate that they actually have," Reinfeldt said.