Mar 27 2018

EU should be clear on Turkey, prime minister says

The European Union should make it clear whether it will accept Turkey as a member, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the day after talks between the EU and Turkey in Varna, Bulgaria failed to produce results.

"The question should be asked here is that; what is the decision of the European Union on Turkey?” Yildirim told members of the governing Justice and Development Party in Ankara on Tuesday.

Turkey has fulfilled its obligations to the EU and “we cannot allow the EU to wear Turkey out,” Yildirim said, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

"Will the EU proceed with a new vision, a vision of enlargement, an inclusive vision, or will it proceed while retiring into its shell?"

Yildirim’s comments came the day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with top EU officials. The two sides failed to reach an agreement on how to proceed with relations, with the EU calling on Turkey to improve its record on human rights and democracy before talk on membership or an expanded customs union could be agreed.

In a joint news conference with EU leaders, Erdogan said that it would be a "grave mistake" for Europe to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.

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

As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016, the member states said no new chapters would be opened until Turkey ended its state of emergency, in place since a coup earlier that year.

The EU's leaders last week strongly criticised Erdogan for provoking tensions with Greece and his crackdown on dissent. The European Parliament has called for a complete halt to membership talks.