EU chief opposes calls to end membership talks with Turkey

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the move would be a 'grave foreign policy mistake'

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker holds a press conference after EU summit meeting on June 28, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has opposed calls to end European Union membership talks with Turkey’s due to the state of emergency declared in the country after the deadly July 15 coup attempt. 

In an exclusive interview with German public television ARD on Thursday, Juncker said: "If one now, at this juncture, gives Turkey the impression that, no matter how, the EU would not be ready to take in Turkey, then I would call that a grave foreign policy mistake." 

Juncker’s remarks come after Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern called for an end to Turkey’s accession talks. On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) also backed the potential move.

Juncker rejected these calls and stated that ending accession talks with a candidate country would only be possible by a unanimous decision of all 28 member states. Ending EU membership talks with Turkey would not be helpful in addressing the current problems, he added.

"And at this precise moment I do not see willingness of all member states towards that." 

Juncker also voiced concern that a deal struck with Turkey in March on handling the wave of refugees bound for Europe could collapse.

Last week, Juncker, speaking to Austrian newspaper Kurier, said: “The risk is great. The success of the pact so far is fragile. (Turkish) President Erdogan has several times hinted he wants to terminate the agreement." 

If that happened, "then you can expect that again refugees are standing at the gates of Europe," he said in the interview.

Turkey has lived up to its side of the landmark deal with Brussels to stop illegal migration to Europe via its shores inn return for the promise of visa-free travel to much of the bloc, accelerated talks on membership and financial aid for the three million refugees it is currently hosting within its borders.

But Ankara has voiced concern that EU is not living up to its side of the accord, which could result in the termination of the agreement and a new influx of refugees heading for EU states.

TRTWorld and agencies