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"Turkey is no longer an EU candidate", MEP says


brussels bureau

"Turkey is no longer an EU candidate", MEP says

Turkey’s integration with the EU has been a long and complicated story.

But is it likely to ever join the union?

Euronews talked to German liberal MEP Graf Lambsdorff.

He said: “In law Turkey is still a candidate, in fact, it is not.

“Nobody believes in Brussels or in Ankara for that matter that Turkey will eventually join the European Union.

“And that is why we say it is better to make a new start and put the relationship on a new foundation.”

Relations between some member states and Turkey have been increasingly strained in recent weeks.

Is Europe being honest with Turkey about its prospects of joining the EU?

“Nobody in Europe, at least very few people, let’s put it that way, had the real intention, honest commitment to Turkey’s accession,” Mr Lambsdorff said.

“France had always large majorities against Turkish accession, in Germany 80 percent of the people are opposed.

“Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria much the same.

“There is no democratic support for Turkey’s accession.

“And so we as Europeans have also been dishonest with our Turkish friends by telling them they can join eventually.

“But at the end of the day everybody knew that there was no majority inside for something like that.”

The European Parliament recently voted to temporarily freeze accession talks with Turkey.

But member states have been accused of remaining silent.

Mr Lambsdorff said: “Unfortunately the member states are too timid, too fearful but in the long run they are not rational in saying: ‘Well we should keep things as they are.’ The world around us is changing rapidly and it is time for the member states to change their position as well.”

Turkey continues to face criticism over human rights, including the arrest of journalists.

Does it suggest Turkey is no longer interested in joining the EU and conforming to its values?

Mr Lambsdorff said: “We should all realize that Turkey has imprisoned more journalists than either China or Iran.

“And that tells us a lot about the state of the freedom of speech in that country.

“The arrests of people who are said to be related to the attempted coup – 47.000 over the past few months.

“All of this is not compatible with our standards for the rule of law. So in fact Turkey has already given up on looking towards Europe, for its standards, its values and its policies.”