EU in need of partners like Turkey, Russia - ex- German chancellor Schroder

The European Union is in need of partners like Turkey and Russia to strengthen itself geographically, the former Chancellor or Germany Gerhard Schröder said.

Turkey’s decades-long EU bid has not come to end, nor has the country embraced an anti-EU stance, Schroder told Germany’s Rheinische Post newspaper.

Turkey has been an official EU candidate country since 1999 and has maintained a customs union deal with the bloc since January 1996. Accession negotiations formally began in October 2005, however have stalled in the last few years due to what is being called Turkey’s failure to comply with required criteria pertaining to the EU candidacy.

The bloc should strengthen its ties with Ankara and Moscow, which play an effective role in emboldening Europe, Schröder said.

The former German chancellor also dismissed a call by Germany’s Christian Democrat’s (CDU/CSU), calling for a "privileged partnership"between Ankara and the bloc.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was an outspoken opponent of Turkey's accession before and after she was elected, saying Ankara was not fit for full membership.

"What is implied by a privileged partnership is effectively signalling for (Turkey) to remain outside (the union),’’ he added. 

Turkey has long dismissed the proposal for a privileged partnership while seeking to upgrade its customs union with the EU and to join the 27-member bloc.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this month said his country is ready to put its frayed relationship with the union “back on track,” and calling on the bloc to display the same determination.