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EU and Turkey - drifting further apart?


brussels bureau

EU and Turkey - drifting further apart?

Tensions continue to boil, as Europe and Turkey seemingly drift further apart.

Ankara’s angry about Dutch and German government bans on its ministers speaking at overseas rallies ahead of a controversial referendum.

And now one EU political leader is renewing calls for membership talks to be frozen.

“A full enlargement of Turkey to the EU is unthinkable, it’s practically not manageable,” said Manfred Weber, Leader of the European People’s Party.

“Turkey is on the other hand building up more distance to the European values in the last weeks and months. That’s why we need a restart.

“The minimum is that we have to freeze the ongoing negotiation process for a while and we should really talk about our fundamental relationships”

While many MEPs have previously supported the idea of Turkey’s membership talks being put on ice, there’ve been warnings that any end to the discussions would result in a “lose, lose” scenario.

“It does not alter the fact that we have to keep the contact with a neighbour that represents 85 million people,” said Johannes Hahn, EU Enlargement Commissioner.

“This is in our own interest, but we also have to tell this neighbour in a good neighbourly way ‘so far and no further.’”

It was in 2004, under the Dutch Presidency of the European Union, that membership talks started. And now it’s the Netherlands that finds itself locked in a diplomatic row with Turkey.

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