The Turkish Ambassador to Ireland has said his country is "not perfect but it can always improve".

Levent Murat Burhan was addressing the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs on enlargment of the EU alongside the representative from North Macedonia.

He told the committee Turkey considers itself as part of the European family and a long standing member of all European structures.

In his opening address, the ambassador described how Turkey began its European cooperation with the fledgling EEC in 1959. Accession negotiations for Turkey to become full members of the EU began in October 2005 and are still ongoing.

Responding to criticism from the committee members about Turkey's recent operation against Kurdish forces in Syria, its human rights violations, infringements on press freedoms and the plight of refugees, Mr Burhan defended Turkeys stance and said "we are not perfect but we can always improve".

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell said he was concerned that Islam, and countries that followed it, had been demonised. He wondered whether some colleagues throughout the EU were looking "through glasses that see Islam and fear" when they should be working towards accession for Turkey.

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe said he was very concerned over freedom of the press and the conflict in Syria. He said there were "huge challenges" and that people wanted to see peace and stability but there was a concern over further conflict.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond echoed the disappointment of the Irish Government that the EU has not yet proceeded to the next stage of negotiations for the Republic of North Macedonia to become full members.

He said it was very important that further negotiations continued and he wished North Macedonia well.

Mr Jasmin Kjahil, the Deputy-Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of North Macedonia said his country has always aligned to the West and that he was disappointed they have not proceeded to the next stage.