Turkish-EU relations do not seem to be returning to normal even though EU foreign ministers stressed that Ankara's membership talks should continue. Tired of the EU's ‘double standards and support for terrorists', Ankara may end the talks and the migrant deal
European Union foreign ministers, despite directing multiple ultimatums and warnings at Turkey, which they consider to be interfering with the EU's domestic issues, announced Monday that membership talks with Ankara should continue.
Different voices have recently been heard in Brussels regarding how the 27-nation bloc should approach Ankara. While some argued that full membership talks should end, others asserted that Brussels needs Ankara.
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjart stated that the EU should be careful while criticizing Turkey.
While the EU has bashed Turkey over several issues, Ankara has not taken a step back and responded with a referendum. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently stated that the question of whether to continue accession talks with the EU could be brought to referendum by the end of the year.
Brussels also threatened Ankara with sanctions, criticizing Turkey on how it is handling domestic issues that include operations against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the PKK terrorist organization.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that Turkey may face "economic sanctions" over its recent terror-related operations, while Ankara was quick to respond with President Erdoğan slamming the remarks, saying that the Turkish people will have the final decision over the fate of EU accession talks.
"You say, 'we'll stop the accession talks,' well, you are late. You should make a decision quickly. As Turkey's president, I say that we should show patience until the end of the year and then go to the people," President Erdoğan said, suggesting holding a referendum on the future of the membership bid.
"The EU's separate organs may voice different opinions. They do not necessarily have to have the same views. This is why the EP and EU foreign ministers are saying different things," İlter Turan, a professor of international relations and former rector of Istanbul Bilgi University, told Daily Sabah.
The migrant deal reached between Brussels and Ankara last March seems to be the only important topic for the EU. While the deal eased the migrant burden for the EU, Brussels may be putting the deal at great risk by siding with groups that Ankara deems terrorists.
"I guess those who offer a safe haven for terrorists fleeing Turkey are also prepared for a couple of million refugees," Erdoğan said referring to the EU countries providing refuge to fugitive FETÖ and PKK terrorists.
Stressing that Turkey maintains a stern approach towards the EU, Turan also contended that Brussels does not want to be the side that ends the membership talks.
However, visa liberalization in the Schengen zone was a key promise under the EU's deal, meant to enhance cooperation between the EU and Turkey while addressing the refugee crisis and accelerating Turkey's membership talks.
So far, Ankara has fulfilled the requirements for visa liberalization but the EU's demands for a change on Ankara's counterterrorism laws resulted in a deadlock on negotiations. As Ankara and Brussels exchange ultimatums back and forth, the fate of Turkey's membership talks and the migrant deal remains to be seen.
EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik yesterday said that the EU's tone against Turkey is "not acceptable." Speaking after his meeting with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Çelik said that Ankara's dialogue channels with the EU are open. "However, we cannot make any progress," he said.
Çelik also slammed Brussels for its failure to stand behind the democratically elected government after the July 15 coup attempt. "There was solidarity with France after the terrorist attacks in Paris, which was the correct move. However, we expected the same solidarity from the EU after the failed Gülenist coup attempt, which was even more bloody. However, we did not see any solidarity," he said. He added that Brussels should not use membership talks to blackmail Turkey.
Çelik said that the EU should understand Turkey's sensitivities, and should refrain from using exclusive language for Turkey. "However, unfortunately, fugitive terrorists and deputies have been welcomed in the EU, they are even attending meetings of the European Parliament," he said.