May 16 2018

Turkey wants to join EU in five years - Deputy PM

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdağ called on Tuesday for Turkey’s EU bid to be speeded up and the country to join the European Union by 2023, the centenary of the Turkish republic, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Turkey has been an official candidate to join the EU since 2005, but Ankara has made little progress in meeting the bloc’s requirements for entry. Thirteen years later, state of emergency powers, in effect since the 2016 failed coup, continue to carry Turkey further away from the EU, particularly in the areas of the rule of law and human rights. Turkey received its worst EU progress report to date this year.

Akdağ, in an interview with German daily Die Welt, repeated Turkey’s frustration at what it sees as EU foot-dragging over accession talks and called for the resumption of the negotiations, which he said would be an "important new impetus" for Turkey.

Akdağ also accused the EU of acting unfairly by allowing several Balkan countries to join the bloc before Turkey.

"Turkey has had an attempted coup and is regularly attacked by terrorists. That's why there are temporary emergency laws. We are disappointed with the Europeans. We expect them to do their homework,” Akdağ said when asked why Turkey was surprised by the EU stalling negotiations over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on dissent.

Akdağ urged Germany to support calls for reopening EU accession talks and said more Syrian refugees might be allowed to cross to Europe if the EU did not budge.

"I’m not saying that now. But of course, there is always a line that shouldn't be crossed," he said.

 

The EU and Turkey struck a deal in March of 2016, aimed at reducing the number of refugees arriving in the EU. The agreement holds that all migrants arriving illegally in Greece will be returned to Turkey while the EU will accept an equivalent number of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey.