Expressing his gratitude to the head of the AECR, Jan Zahradil said, "We are here as the elements of one united political family and we wish to go on cooperating to gain favor together.
Turkey's ruling party joined the AECR -- a Euroskeptic party -- after a long period as an "observer" within the largest and most powerful political group in the European Union, the Christian Democrats (EPP), a move perceived to mean that Ankara wants a different EU with looser ties.
With the news that the AK Party had joined the AECR in November of 2013, Andrew Duff, a veteran of European politics and a British member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the EP, was very surprised, expressing his disbelief.
Duff unequivocally said the decision was very ill-advised and claimed that the real reason the AECR wanted the AK Party as a member was to weaken the EU.
The rest of the AECR group are hardly known for being Turkophiles under any circumstances," he said, stressing that he didn't believe then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an was serving Turkey's interests by switching to the AECR.
The AECR is a center-right, Euroskeptic European political party.
Lambsdorff, who is also the deputy chairman of the Liberal Group in the EP, said he understood the frustration of the AK Party with the snail-paced accession talks but said that, nevertheless, the switch to the AECR
was not a good idea at all.
The AECR had only one prime minister among its 28 members wanting to separate his country from the EU, said Oomen-Ruijten, referring to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has promised to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017 if re-elected.
Lambsdorff, who is also deputy chairman of the ALDE, said he understood the AK Party's frustration with the slow pace of accession talks, but said that moving to the AECR was nonetheless unwise.
had only one prime minister among 28 member countries who wanted to take his country out of the EU, said Oomen-Ruijten.
Besides, the AECR is also split on Turkey's EU membership, with the Brits and Czechs in favor, while the Poles and some of the smaller parties are against.
One could of course ask whether being an EPP observer or an AECR member makes much difference at this moment in time, when EU membership, in any form, is not on offer today or tomorrow.