Turkey will never step back from its efforts to become an EU member despite Europe’s lack of support for Ankara in its fight against terrorism, ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party deputy chairman said on Wednesday.


Talking to reporters after a central executive board meeting at AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara, Yasin Aktay said: “Turkey has not given up on the European membership and it will not do so in the future.


“Unfortunately, both the rhetoric laid forth in reports written by the EU in 2016 over Turkey as well as the EU’s lack of support for Turkey in its fight against terrorist groups is a disappointment.”


Turkey applied for membership in the EU in 1987, while accession talks began in 2005.


Negotiations, however, hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue. Also, German and French governments opposed the country’s full EU membership.


To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.


Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.


The deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area that comprises mostly EU states.


In a joint statement from November 2015, the EU and Turkey confirmed their commitments to re-energize the accession process.