The EU is stalling Turkey, a country that started talks with the bloc more than 50 years ago, in the accession negotiations, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said yesterday, referring to Brussels' attitude against Ankara as unjust and disrespectful.
"The attitude of the EU in the European Commission towards Turkey is unacceptable, unfair and disrespectful. We should openly discuss this issue, there are strong and big EU countries that extremely oppose the membership of Turkey. This is a fact and should be paid attention to," Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Underlining that this is the reason why Turkey and Europe should build strategic alliances in other fields, he indicated that Turkey plays an essential role in the security of the EU.
Turkey's journey to become a member of the EU has seen numerous ups and downs for fifty years, longer than any other country that has applied for the membership in the union. Although EU membership remains a top strategic goal for Turkey, which started in 1963 with the Ankara Agreement, the EU keeps dragging its feet in the process.
The comments came after the leader of one of the biggest transnational groups in the European Parliament, when the European People's Party (EPP) Manfred Weber pledged to put a final end to Turkey's accessions negotiations to the EU if he gets elected as the European Commission President in next month's elections.
Speaking in Atina on Tuesday as part of his election campaign tour, Weber said "You want to have a strong and solid, good relationship between Turkey and the EU but I think we should be honest and that includes that Turkey cannot become a member of the EU." He pointed at the reason why Turkey cannot become a member as the country's straying from European values.
Emphasizing that the 2016 refugee deal that required Turkey's stemming the refugee flow to Europe in exchange for 6 billion euros ($6.72 billion) provided by the EU, was one of the concrete and successful cooperation agreements, Weber stated that although the number of migrants and asylum seekers trying to get into Europe has dropped sharply thanks to the deal, the issue remains a priority for the bloc.
Recently, 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 press freedom in Turkey. In March, the European Parliament also voted against Turkey's EU accession negotiations and called on the European countries to formally suspend the process.
However, the objections revolving around why Turkey is accepted as a member dramatically changed. Instead of lack of sufficient alignments on Turkish laws, both leaders rejected the prospect of Turkey's EU membership from an identity-centered perspective.
Touching upon the refugee deal between the two blocs, Szijjarto underscored that if the deal was not signed and Turkey did not prohibit refugees to cross Europe despite hosting an overwhelming number of refugees, the EU would face a great security challenge.
Turkey and the EU signed an agreement in 2016 to find a solution to the influx of refugees heading to the union. The agreement foresees that in exchange for Turkey stemming the refugee flow to Europe, the EU would pay Turkey 6 billion euros in financial aid. The agreement also envisages acceleration in Turkey's EU accession talks and visa-free travel for its citizens.
The EU had fully paid its first 3 billion euros tranche for 2016-17 and promised to pay the second tranche for 2018-19 by the end of this year. Although Turkey has done its part, ensuring 99 percent decreasing in irregular arrivals to the EU, Brussels failed to hold up its end of the agreement. The EU has been delaying implementing visa-free travel for Turkish citizens for two years since the deal came into effect.
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