EU Commission says bloc prefers continuation of accession talks with Turkey

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 07.11.2018 21:58

The European Union has chosen the continuation of accession negotiations with Turkey, said Margaritis Schinas, the spokesperson of the European Commission, yesterday, following the recent remarks by EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn that the bloc should end accession talks with Ankara.

"The collegial decision, the position of the college, is that the accession negotiations [with Turkey] should be maintained," Margaritis Schinas told a daily press briefing in Brussels, dismissing the remarks of the European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations Hahn which suggested Turkish membership in the EU is not realistic in the foreseeable future. Schinas pointed out that the official position of the Commission can be expressed only by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

Referring to the EU-Turkey summit meeting in Bulgaria's Varna on March 26, Schinas underscored that both Juncker and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk clearly stressed the need in this process for deep reform and for good neighborly relations when they met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He added that these are vital to keep open the channels of communication between the EU and Turkey and be able to stay on the course of this process.

Hahn said on Tuesday that holding on to accession talks, which have been running since 2005, has been blocking the way for "a realistic, strategic partnership." Hahn called for ending accession talks with Turkey officially and proposed to determine a new path for a being honest in the long-term.

Previously, French President Emmanuel Macron said there is a need to build a strategic partnership with Turkey, instead of granting EU membership.

Turkey's journey to become a member of EU has seen numerous ups and downs for 50 years, longer than any other country that has applied for the membership in the union. Turkey has always been open to cooperation, doing its part in the negotiations which started in 1963 with the Ankara Agreement although the EU keeps delaying the process.

Turkey's membership process to the European Union is a political one, Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Monday. "Turkey's stance has been clear. The membership process to the EU is a political one, rather than being a technical process," Oktay said at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk, adding: "Turkey expressed its intentions 54 years ago and continues to do so. There is no change in the politics of Turkey."

Despite the recent normalization in ties, EU members have noted that the negotiations have come to a de facto standstill and pointed out their concerns over claims of massive regression in terms of the rule of law, citizens' rights and freedom of the press in Turkey. Ankara has also been calling some time now for the EU to conclude the process either way instead of stalling.

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