Von der Leyen: Turkey ‘further away’ from EU

Turkey is now further away from the EU compared to what was happening a quarter of a century ago, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in an interview given to a small number of European newspapers, including Kathimerini.

Commenting on the choice by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan not to apply European sanctions against Russia, von der Leyen noted that alignment is important in the accession process, adding that Ankara’s reluctance shows a lot about its willingness to join the European Union.

What’s more, comparing the course of Turkey and Slovakia since 1999, she said that “Turkey today is further away than it was in 1999.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the president of the Commission said that “the accession process is merit-based and therefore it is very much in the hands of the applicant country.”

Referring to the energy war being waged by Russia against Europe, von der Leyen assured that the EU has prepared emergency plans, which include a full range of necessary steps.

“We have emergency plans in place that have the whole width of necessary steps from the efficiency element to energy saving, to prioritising the needs. This hasn’t been done intensively since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, the trigger for all this. So as I said, we’re prepared but and we take it very serious,” she said.

“I’m not specifically worried but I know it’s a lot of work still. And the circumstances are serious,” she added.

She said EU policy is based on three pillars. The first one is diversifying away from Russian fossil fuels. “This is my agreement with President Biden on additional LNG supply from the United States or my trip to Israel and Egypt to increase the gas natural gas supply to Europe,” she said, adding that the second pillar is energy efficiency. “If we would decrease the heating in Europe by two degrees or less air conditioning cooling. This would compensate the whole delivery of Nord Stream one,” she noted, stressing that the third element “is massive investment in renewables.”

“​​​​​​I think we are already in the process of getting rid of the dependency on Russian gas on these three pillars, diversification away to other trustworthy suppliers,” she said.

(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)


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