News ID: 189593
Published: 0951 GMT March 19, 2017

Prospect of Turkey’s accession to EU more unlikely: Germany

Prospect of Turkey’s accession to EU more unlikely: Germany

The German foreign minister says the prospect of Turkey’s accession to the European Union has never been less likely, amid growing tensions between Ankara and some members of the bloc.

"Today Turkey is definitely further away from becoming a member of the European Union than ever before," Sigmar Gabriel said in a Saturday interview with news magazine Der Spiegel.

Gabriel pointed to his long-time doubts about Turkey’s accession to the EU and said he had always found himself in the minority before.

Turkey has been trying to become an EU member for decades. Formal EU accession talks began in 2005, but the process has been plagued by problems.

The EU has opened 16 out of the 35 chapters required for Turkey to join the 28-nation bloc, but only one of them has so far been concluded.

In January, Turkey called on the European Union to resume negotiations on Ankara’s accession to the bloc, after the talks halted following a failed military coup in the country in July 2016.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in a recent interview that there was currently no helpful reason that would bring the EU and Turkey together, due to Ankara’s verbal attacks and the way that the rule of law and order in Turkey had been trampled on following the July attempted coup.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has also cast doubt on the prospect of Turkey’s membership to the bloc, saying the plans for Ankara’s accession "will not fail due to a lack of willingness on the part of EU members but rather due to Turkey not wanting to introduce European standards."

Juncker warned that talks on Turkey’s accession to the EU would automatically end if Ankara were to re-introduce the death penalty.

The Turkish government seeks to rally support from Turks abroad for an April referendum on a constitutional reform bill that would boost Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power.

Erdogan angered Germany and the Netherlands after he described bans by both European countries on planned rallies in support of the referendum as "fascist.”

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been further upset following the arrest of a Turkish-German journalist in Ankara over his reports on Turkey’s treatment of its Kurdish population.

More than 250 were killed in the last July coup attempt, when a group of renegade army and police officers sought to oust Erdogan. The coup failed after the president returned to his office and people forced the putschists to lay down their arms.

Erdogan then ordered a massive crackdown, which has seen more than 40,000 people jailed and some 110,000 others discharged from their jobs.



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