EU affairs minister: Austria's obsession over Turkey 'matter of psychiatry'

Published 26.10.2017 00:28
Updated 26.10.2017 00:29
Çelik asserted that Austria's incoming chancellor, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, is not taken seriously in the 28-union bloc, Oct. 25.
Çelik asserted that Austria's incoming chancellor, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, is not taken seriously in the 28-union bloc, Oct. 25.

EU Affairs Minister Çelik has said he cannot explain Austria's anti-Turkey rhetoric because it is an ‘obsession' rather than a political stance, and that cutting Ankara's pre-accession funds will have no implications for the country

EU Affairs Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik said yesterday that Austria's current stance on Turkey is a subject of psychiatry and cannot be explained through political analysis.

With Austrian politicians maintaining that Turkey should never become a part of the EU, Çelik, speaking to Anadolu Agency, said, "Austria's obsession with Turkey has become a psychiatric obsession."

Çelik asserted that Austria's incoming chancellor, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, is not taken seriously in the 28-union bloc. Kurz had prevented the entry of Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, who wanted to attend a coup anniversary event in July.

The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany also canceled the meetings of some Turkish ministers and politicians that they planned as part of the campaign in support of the constitutional reform referendum.

Ankara has strongly condemned the bans by European countries, saying that they contradict the principles of democracy and freedom of expression, which these countries claim to be a significant part of their identity.

Çelik commented on the recent status of relations between Ankara and the EU, stressing that the EU should not cancel or suspend Turkey's accession talks to the EU."It would be suicide for the EU, which cannot resolve its problems, if they decide to break off or suspend negotiations with Turkey," he said.

He added that he does not believe that the EU will make such a decision and that propaganda is being used to discredit Turkey.

Meanwhile, the minister also talked about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion at the EU Leaders Summit to reduce the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds provided to Ankara, saying that cutting the funds would not have any implications for Turkey.

"Talking about breaking off IPA reduces EU's credibility," Çelik said, a few days after Merkel's suggestion.

However, to stop such payments would require a joint decision by EU member states to freeze or stop accession talks with Ankara.

Besides Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have also seen a rise in anti-Turkey rhetoric in the run ups to national elections in recent months.

Çelik said that the EU perceives Turkey as a country to be cooperated with on migration and the fight against terrorism rather than a candidate for EU membership. He added that the EU is trying to bring its "privileged partnership" with Turkey to the forefront, which he called improper.

Turkey is expected to receive 4.45 billion euros from the EU in pre-accession funding from 2014 to 2020. However, so far both sides have signed deals for only 1.78 billion euros, according to Çelik.

Çelik slammed the EU for not keeping its word concerning the migration crisis, saying that despite the fact that Turkey did its part fully; the EU is not opening chapters or adopting visa liberation for Turkish nationals as promised.

"An EU, in which extremist rightists are on the rise, promises are violated, transformation processes have not been completed and opportunities are not seized, can't be an attraction center for Turkey," Çelik said.

He said that the EU did not help Turkey following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and have been adopting a negative attitude on Turkey. He said despite that, the EU should help Turkey to promote democracy and its institutions, instead of opposing it.Çelik said that bilateral matters between countries are reflected as a problem between Turkey and the EU, adding that the issues between Turkey and Germany and Austria are transformed into a matter of the EU. He said that parties in the EU do not perceive the EU as a union, but as a system ruled by Germany, and that Germany was giving instructions to EU intuitions prior to its elections on Sept. 24.

Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community – the precursor to the EU – in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997, and accession talks began in 2005.

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

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