15th Aug 2020

Turkey angered by Franco-German enlargement remarks

  • The EU should stick to what it has promised, says Mr Gul (l) (Photo: European Commission)

Turkey has been promised that it will one day join the European Union and recent statements by some member states against Turkish EU membership are "violating" this understanding, Turkish president Abdullah Gul has said.

"There has been a unanimous decision [by EU member states] to start negotiations with Turkey" leading to its accession to the EU, Mr Gul was reported by AFP as saying on the sidelines of an official trip to neighbouring Syria on Sunday (17 May).

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"Any discussion on this is tantamount to violating the decisions taken by the EU and would mean that the decision to start negotiations with Turkey was not sincere, that the heads of state took a decision that did not reflect their intentions."

"It would be unacceptable," Mr Gul added.

The Turkish president's remarks come as the leaders of France and Germany, president Nicolas Sarkozy and chancellor Angela Merkel, have repeatedly stated their opposition to Turkey's EU membership bid.

Mr Sarkozy has often said that Turkey does not belong to Europe and earlier this month said the EU should stop making vain promises to Ankara and offer it "a privileged partnership" instead.

For her part, at a meeting with Mr Sarkozy a week ago, Ms Merkel also said that the EU could not "take in everyone… as a full member."

"Our common position is: a privileged partnership for Turkey, but no full membership," she insisted.

A promise is a promise

In addition to Mr Gul, a number of high-ranking Turkish politicians have reacted to the French and German comments in the last few days, with prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling them "unfortunate."

"There is a statement that I always make: ‘The match has started, we're playing and the penalty rules are changing during the match.' It's not acceptable, people will laugh at you," Mr Erdogan was reported by Today's Zaman as saying during a visit in Warsaw last Thursday (14 May).

A day earlier in Stockholm, the country's new foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, stressed that Ankara would only accept full membership. "We will either become a full member of the EU or not become a member at all," he said.

Some member states – such as the UK, Portugal and Poland – have taken Turkey's side, urging the EU to stick to its commitments.

"Poland will first of all keep reminding our EU partners that nobody spoke of additional conditions before for Turkey's EU accession," Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said after meeting Mr Erdogan in Warsaw.

"The EU set certain conditions [for membership] and when they are met the positive decision should be automatic," he added.

Turkey – a Euro-Asian country of some 70 million people – submitted an EU membership application in 1987 and was eventually granted the status of an EU candidate country in 1999.

It started membership talks with the bloc in October 2005, but they have been progressing slowly, with only ten chapters of the 35-chapter accession package having been opened so far, and just one successfully closed.

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