As tensions rise between Turkey and the EU over the negotiation process designed to allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to EU member states and the opening of new chapters in relation to Turkey's accession to the EU, European politicians have drawn attention to Turkey's significance for the union, saying Ankara's decision to give up on the negotiations would be a significant loss for the EU.
During debates in Ankara regarding reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey on Friday, EU leaders voiced their concerns while European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that he hopes Turkey will not give up on EU membership negotiations, the German media reported.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly said that if the parliament passes a bill to reinstate the death penalty, he will approve it, adding that it would be accepting the people's will.
Schulz said that should Turkey impose the death penalty, however, then "it's clear" that would signal the end of accession talks. "Going mute has never helped things, it just creates a situation where things threaten to get worse," Schulz told German newspaper Mindener Tageblatt. The German lawmaker said that an end to negotiations between the EU and Turkey would not be a win for Europe. "In fact, it would have the opposite effect. We would miss out on an opportunity to have an influence on what is happening in Turkey, and to perhaps make things better," Schulz said in the interview.
Ankara has recently urged EU authorities to hasten the decision-making process, vowing to seek other options if the process is stalled which could bring an end to negotiation talks. President Erdoğan said that evaluate the progress of accession talks before taking the issue to the people in a referendum regarding the continuation of negotiations with the EU.
Relations between Turkey and Europe have been stalled by many issues, including the failure of the EU to grant visa liberalization for Turkish citizens as promised and the EU's indifference to the coup attempt and terrorist organizations attacking Turkey.
The EU and Turkey signed a refugee deal on March 18, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Although Turkey fulfilled most of the criteria, differences between Brussels and Ankara on counterterrorism U EU's stance on the PKK terror group and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), saying the EU states are turning a blind eye to the terror attacks against the Turkish state and its people, as well as the activities of the groups within the borders of the EU.
Turkey began its EU accession talks in 2005. In 1963, Turkey and the European Economic Community (the EU's former name) signed an association agreement.