UK’s Os­borne says Turkey won’t join EU

Pakistan Observer - - PAGE 07 -

LON­DON—Bri­tish fi­nance min­is­ter Ge­orge Os­borne said Turkey would not join the Euro­pean Union, re­but­ting one of the ar­gu­ments made by cam­paign­ers who want Bri­tain to leave the EU and who are fore­cast­ing higher mi­gra­tion if Turkey joins the bloc.

“I don’t think it’s go­ing to hap­pen in my life­time,” Os­borne told BBC tele­vi­sion on Wed­nes­day, ahead of Bri­tain’s EU mem­ber­ship ref­er­en­dum on June 23. “Is it go­ing to be a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union? No, it’s not.”

Cam­paign­ers seek­ing to get Bri­tain out of the EU have put im­mi­gra­tion at the cen­ter of their push and have said Turkey join­ing the EU could add to the big flows of mi­grants al­ready ar­riv­ing in the coun­try.

Fears among some vot­ers that the num­bers of peo­ple com­ing to Bri­tain is out of con­trol is seen as one of the main weak­nesses of the “In” camp backed by Os­borne and Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron.

Opin­ion polls have shown the ri­val “In” and “Out” camps run­ning al­most neck and neck with just over two weeks to go un­til the ref­er­en­dum.

Os­borne was ques­tioned about Cameron’s pre­vi­ous sup­port for Turkey to join the EU. In 2010, Cameron said he would be the “strong­est ad­vo­cate” for Turk­ish mem­ber­ship of the bloc.

“Turkey has gone back­wards. There are con­cerns about democ­racy and hu­man rights there,” Os­borne said. “Bri­tish gov­ern­ment pol­icy is that it should not join the Euro­pean Union to­day.”

Last month, Cameron dis­missed the as­ser­tion from “Out” cam­paign­ers that Turkey would join the EU soon, jok­ing that its cur­rent progress to­ward ac­ces­sion meant it would not be­come a mem­ber un­til the year 3000.

Turkey said in May that EU mem­ber­ship re­mains a strate­gic goal and a deal to lib­er­al­ize visas for Turks vis­it­ing the bloc should ac­cel­er­ate the ac­ces­sion process.

Vote Leave, the main “Out” cam­paign ahead of the ref­er­en­dum, re­sponded to Os­borne’s com­ments by say­ing the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion on Turkey was not clear.

“The gov­ern­ment must now ur­gently clar­ify whether its pol­icy on Turkey has changed. Is it now promis­ing to veto Turk­ish mem­ber­ship?” a spokes­woman for the group said.

Os­borne also said in his in­ter­view with the BBC that the gov­ern­ment was stick­ing to its tar­get of bring­ing net mi­gra­tion into Bri­tain to be­low 100,000, some­thing it has missed by a wide mar­gin in re­cent years. He said im­prov­ing economies in other Euro­pean coun­tries would help dampen mi­gra­tion into Bri­tain.

“As both economies grow, the Euro­pean economy and the Bri­tish economy, you don’t have this ex­cep­tional sit­u­a­tion you’ve had for the last cou­ple of years where you’ve had very weak economies on the con­ti­nent of Europe,” he said.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Fi­nance Min­is­ter Sen­a­tor Mo­ham­mad Ishaq Dar with other guests at If­tar din­ner hosted by Khalid Ma­jeed, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive KMR Char­tered Ac­coun­tants on Fri­day.

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