Juncker says Er­do­gan’s Turkey is tak­ing ‘gi­ant steps’ away from EU

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Turkey is tak­ing “gi­ant steps” away from Europe and it is en­tirely the fault of the “Erdo an sys­tem”, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tues­day in his strong­est com­ments to date against Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s rule.

“Turkey is mov­ing away from Europe in gi­ant strides. The ques­tion is whether we should put an end to the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Turkey, but it is a mat­ter of pure the­ory since there are no ne­go­ti­a­tions at the mo­ment,” Juncker told a meet­ing of EU am­bas­sadors in Brus­sels.

Juncker, at the helm of the EU ex­ec­u­tive since Novem­ber 2014, voiced a strong sus­pi­cion that Er­doan would ac­tu­ally want the EU to put an of­fi­cial end to the ac­ces­sion talks, which were launched in 2005 and sus­pended in Novem­ber 2016 due to con­cerns over hu­man rights and rule of law in Turkey.

“I think he would want Europe to say that it wants to end the ne­go­ti­a­tions, so that he can lay all the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the EU and not on Turkey… I would like us to pro­ceed in a man­ner that would make the Turks re­alise that it is them, the Er­do­gan sys­tem, that is mak­ing Turkey’s ac­ces­sion im­pos­si­ble,” the Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent said.

West­ern lead­ers have been crit­i­cal of the way Er­do­gan cracked down on his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents at home, be­fore and after a failed coup against him in July 2016.

The EU has been par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with the grow­ing au­thor­i­tar­ian ten­den­cies in Turkey – a NATO mem­ber and key West­ern ally een par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with the grow­ing au­thor­i­tar­ian ten­den­cies in Turkey – a NATO mem­ber and key West­ern ally for the Mus­lim coun­tries – after Er­do­gan won sweep­ing pres­i­den­tial pow­ers in a ref­er­en­dum in April.

Er­do­gan says both the crack­down and the wider pres­i­den­tial pow­ers are needed to help tackle se­ri­ous se­cu­rity chal­lenges Turkey faces at home and be­yond its borders.

EU En­large­ment Com­mis­sioner Jo­hannes Hahn re­cently told Ger­man me­dia that it is time Brus­sels changed its ap­proach to its re­la­tions with Turkey, after Er­do­gan called on Ger­man Turks not to vote for the two rul­ing par­ties in the Septem­ber fed­eral elec­tions.

“I be­lieve it is time for the mem­ber states to dis­cuss the strate­gic im­pli­ca­tions of this be­hav­iour. Shrug­ging your shoul­ders is not a po­lit­i­cal strat­egy in the long run,” Hahn told Ger­man daily Sly Sud­deutsche Zeitung on 21 Au­gust.

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