“Turkey is a catalyst to make sure we have harmony of civilizations. It is a bridge between the Islamic world and the rest of the world,” he told The Independent in an interview published on Monday, December 13.
Erdogan, who was recently named “European of the Year,” praise his country as “a guarantee of an entente between the civilizations.”
He described Ankara’s possible membership in the 25-member EU as “the project of the century.”
European leaders will huddle together in Brussels on Thursday to set a date for accession negotiations with the predominantly Muslim, but secular, Turkey.
Erdogan said his country expects an “exact date of the start of negotiations” on “unconditional full membership.”
The European Commission on Wednesday, October 6, gave Turkey a green light to start talks to join the European Union, but set a series of tough conditions warning there was no guarantee of success.
Turkey, an official candidate since 1999, has been waiting to join the euro bloc for decades but its efforts have stumbled over its civil rights record.
The Turkish parliament adopted last month a far-reaching overhaul of the country’s 78-year-old penal code, clearing a major obstacle to accession talks.