The EU has failed to respond to "a new and growing Europe," a senior member of the U.K.'s House of Lords said on Tuesday in an international event in Istanbul.
"When countries like the U.K. have been at the table asking for reform, that reform has been too slow coming, which is why we eventually ended up in the situation that we have with the Brexit referendum," Sayeeda Warsi, also a former U.K. minister, said at a session of TRT World Forum -- titled The EU: A Vote of No Confidence?.
"There is a deficit in relation to its financial accountability. There is no doubt about the amount of money that is unaccounted for within the EU," Warsi said.
"It has failed to adequately respond to a new and growing Europe. It has failed, I would say fundamentally as far as Bosnia and Herzegovina is concerned," she said.
"I think sometimes the EU fails to recognize its friends and the same is happening in relation to Turkey," she added.
"If the EU has a project [it] wants to survive, it has to start to understand those individual journeys within those individual countries," stressed Warsi.
Referring to Turkey’s EU membership, Warsi said: "Britain has traditionally been one of the strongest supporters of Turkey joining the EU. That has not been the case across the whole of the European Union".
Faruk Kaymakci, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister and director for EU affairs, said: "Being a founding member of NATO, a founding member of Council of Europe, we do not feel that the EU is complete without Turkey’s membership."
"We know that this is a win-win situation. Of course, Turkish accession is the most complicated, most difficult and most challenging one because Turkey is too big," he stressed.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and its accession talks began in 2005. But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration as well as opposition from Germany and France.
- Turkey’s counter-terror operation
"I think what Turkey is saying very clearly is that 'if your terrorists are our terrorists, if your problems are our problems, all we want is a little bit of support and understanding when we are fighting these incredibly tough battles on our border'," Warsi said regarding EU stance over Turkey’s counter-terror operation in northern Syria.
Speaking of the goals of Turkey's anti-terror push, Kaymakci said: "Today, we are fighting against terrorism. We are fighting against terrorist organizations, which are recognized by the U.S. and the EU, and we are not only defending our borders, which are also borders of the NATO and Europe, but also, through this operation, we want to help the Syrians to go back to their country".
"We have millions of Kurds in our country. We have at least 300,000 Syrian Kurds, who were pushed and forced out by PYD/YPG [YPG/PKK] and we are almost sure that most of them will go back to the operation area that we are conducting now," he added.
"As you can see now PYD/YPG [YPG/PKK] started releasing Daesh members [in northern Syria]. If they are really fighting Daesh, why are they releasing them?” the Turkish deputy foreign minister asked.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
Former President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic urged the EU to "increase the democratic standards and responsibility of politicians towards the citizens".
"The EU politicians are promising too much, probably even something they cannot perform finally," Josipovic said.
"They should have the same criteria for national and European politicians as well," he said, adding: "Europe is not completed without all countries of southeast Europe. It is very important for security".
Finland’s former Prime Minister Esko Aho also said the EU has failed to find new policies to meet the needs of the countries.
"Quite often we are saying that we are almost perfect, we are not," Aho saidi, and added: "We have failed to find new models, new policies."
By Nilay Kar Onum