4th Aug 2020

Turkey receives reassurance on EU membership bid

The European Commission as well as the current and upcoming EU presidencies on Tuesday (19 May) reassured Turkey that it is negotiating for full membership of the European Union, despite France and Germany repeatedly stating their opposition.

"The European Commission is committed to the EU accession process of Turkey ... on the basis of the negotiating framework that was adopted by unanimity by all [EU] member states and Turkey in October 2005," EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said after talks in Brussels with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

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  • Full EU membership is the only option acceptable for Ankara, says Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu (l) (Photo: Council of the EU)

Turkish membership "is in the fundamental interest of the EU," Mr Rehn added, while noting the process would be long and calling on Ankara to continue implementing needed reforms. The country should "enhance fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, freedom of the media as well as women's rights, trade union rights," he said.

Similar statements were made by Czech foreign minister Jan Kohout on behalf of the Czech EU presidency, as well as by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, whose country will take over the EU presidency after the Czechs, on 1 July.

Mr Kohout insisted that it is important that member states stick to commitments they have made, while Mr Bildt said: "We are committed jointly ... [to] fulfil that European programme of the accession process that was agreed" in July 2008.

The comments follow a number of statements made by the leaders of France and Germany opposing Turkey's EU membership bid and pushing for "a privileged partnership" instead.

Last week Ankara reacted strongly saying such remarks were "unacceptable" and represented a violation of the promise made to Turkey by the EU.

At Tuesday's press conference, Mr Davutoglu restated Ankara's position that full membership is the only acceptable outcome of the negotiations process.

Turkey – an EU candidate since 1999 – opened membership talks with the bloc in October 2005, but has only opened ten chapters of the 35-chapter accession package so far, with only one successfully closed.

Mr Kohout said he was still confident at least one more chapter could be opened before the end of June, when the Czech EU presidency ends.

"The ambition of the [Czech] presidency is still to open at least one chapter," the one on taxation, he said. "This is in the range of our possibilities, I think."

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