Economic Development Foundation (IKV) Chairperson Ayhan Zeytinoğlu criticized the European Commission for putting Turkey in a different directorate with its southern neighbors, which he noted do not have a perspective to join the bloc nor are integrated into the customs union.
The commission “singled out” Turkey outside of the enlargement perspective, and it was unacceptable that Turkey is being treated under the scope of its location, exclusively based on a migration and security perspective, Zeytinoğlu said.
“... It is unacceptable for the European Union to equate Turkey with its Southern Neighbours, which have no EU membership perspective nor do they enjoy the advanced level of integration with the EU such as the customs union. Associating this department only with migration and security implies disregarding the multidimensional and intricate relations between Turkey and the EU encompassing issues such as climate, health and energy, and it is certain that it will be insufficient,” he said.
Turkey was previously listed on the same directorate as the Western Balkans but has now been moved under the Southern Neighbourhood, Turkey, Migration/Refugees and Security Issues directorate.
Zeytinoğlu noted that Turkey’s Foreign Ministry and the Directorate for EU Affairs have been trying to prevent the move, which he said took place “silently.”
“We find this situation regrettable,” Zeytinoğlu said, adding that it will be difficult for the bloc to become a geopolitical power without Turkey.
Turkey has the longest history with the union and the longest negotiation process. The country signed an association agreement with the EU's predecessor in 1964, the European Economic Community (EEC), which is usually regarded as a first step to eventually becoming a candidate. Applying for official candidacy in 1987, Turkey had to wait until 1999 to be granted the status of a candidate country. For the start of the negotiations, however, Turkey had to wait another six years, until 2005, a uniquely long process compared with other candidates.
Turkey-EU relations are marked by disputes on several issues, including tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's role in Syria, the migrant crisis and the stalemate in Turkey's accession process to the bloc.
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