Turkey being pushed away from EU membership - deputy foreign minister

Turkey is not moving away, but is being pushed  away from the European Union by the actions of some European countries, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakçı said.

“Putting Turkey’s membership process on hold, especially for political reasons, was a practice that reduced our motivation,” the official said in the opening ceremony of the 40th Turkey-EU Joint Consultative Committee on Monday in western Izmir province, Haber Türk reported.

“If Turkey is desired to proceed on a reformist path and is expected to act within the Copenhagen criteria, then halting the full membership process is a source of demotivation for us,” Kaymakçı said.

Turkey opened accession talks with the EU in 2005, pledging to strengthen its democracy, guarantee rule of law and match regulations governing the economy with those of the 27-member bloc.

But the EU froze talks on the chapters of Turkey’s accession following a military coup attempt in 2016, when it strayed further from Europe’s democratic standards.

There are positive developments in Turkey-EU relations and Ankara hopes to continue this positive agenda, Kaymakçı said.

“A positive agenda is something that needs to be worked on. Full membership is an important perspective. We know this won't happen tomorrow,” he said. "We definitely want Turkey to be evaluated from a membership perspective.”

Political tensions between Ankara and Brussels intensified last year amid a row between Turkey and EU member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and access to hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.

The EU threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over the issue in December. However, following a charm offensive led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, EU leaders rowed back on the measures.

At March’s European Council meeting, the EU said it was “ready to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner, provided that the current de-escalation is sustained and that Turkey engages constructively”.

Incentives for constructive Turkish engagement included the possibility of modernising the customs union to include services, farm goods and public procurement, as well as further financial support for the near 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, the EU said.

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