Bloc mem­ber­ship scru­ti­nised

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

In the face of in­creas­ing crit­i­cism and wors­en­ing re­la­tions, the Euro­pean Union and Turkey have launched into a war of words over whether Ankara’s bid to join the EU should con­tinue.

In a high-stakes game of po­lit­i­cal chicken, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said the EU wouldn’t be able to reach the “fi­nal point” and end its ties with Turkey out of fears of jeop­ar­dis­ing a deal to curb the flow of mi­grants from Africa and the Mid­dle East to Europe.

Hours in Brussels, EU En­large­ment Com­mis­sioner Jo­hannes Hahn bluntly said that “it is time Ankara tells us what they re­ally want”, in the wake of a re­port as­sess­ing Turkey’s sta­tus as a can­di­date for mem­ber­ship that high­lighted what the EU saw as back­slid­ing on es­sen­tial hu­man right and rule of law stan­dards.

The re­port, is­sued yes­ter­day, came af­ter Turkey’s clam­p­down on me­dia free­doms and the ar­rests of 10 pro-Kur­dish leg­is­la­tors.

“These var­i­ous ac­tions, in­clud­ing con­sid­er­a­tions of rein­tro­duc­ing the later, death penalty, seem to be in­creas­ingly in­com­pat­i­ble with Turkey’s of­fi­cial de­sire to be­come a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union,” Hahn said. “In its own in­ter­est, Turkey ur­gently needs to stop mov­ing away from the EU.”

In the es­ca­lat­ing stand-off on Turkey’s pro­tracted mem­ber­ship bid, Er­do­gan rose to the chal­lenge. “They say un­abashedly and shame­lessly that the EU should re­view its ne­go­ti­a­tions with Turkey,” Er­do­gan told a busi­ness group in Is­tan­bul.

“You are late, go and re­view them as soon as you can. But don’t just re­view them – go and make your fi­nal de­ci­sion.”

The Turk­ish leader added: “You know those three mil­lion refugees in Turkey? They say there is a prob­lem. What if the ne­go­ti­a­tions end and they open the gates, where would we put those three mil­lion refugees? That is their worry. That is why they can­not come to the end point.”

In March, Turkey and the EU reached an agree­ment in which Turkey would stem the flow of mi­grants to Greece in re­turn for a pack­age of in­cen­tives.

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