German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the European Union’s necessity of Turkey’s help to end refugee crisis in Europe doesn’t change her mind about Turkey’s full EU membership, and she still opposes it.
"I have always been against EU membership, President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan knows this, and I still am," Merkel told to German broadcaster ARD.
Turkey has been handed over a Draft Action Plan by EU Commission during Erdogan’s Belgium visit on Tuesday to end the refugee crisis which reached the gates of European Union border states and the block itself.
The plan basically requires to fund Turkey and set up a joint working group to coordinate in order to cope with the crisis. It also requires to take precautions in order to prevent more refugees from entering Turkey. However, the refugees who are not accepted by the EU or who reach the group illegally will be sent back to Turkey.
Since Turkey is critically needed to solve EU’s migrant crisis, its bid for EU membership is stronger than ever been before.
However, Germany’s Merkel has been an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s membership since 2005, when she was first elected.
She instead advocates for a ‘privileged partnership’ with Turkey, whose negotiations have come to a stalemate in 2007 due to the Cyprus issue and the opposition of German and French governments towards a full membership, after its EU membership talks began in 2005.
“We need to talk to Turkey about sharing the burden better," said Merkel.
"That will mean that we give Turkey money ... and that we fulfill certain demands that Turkey has, such as easing visa restrictions."
As a candidate country, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 chapters in various policy areas, which involve reforms and adaptation of European standards for its EU membership.
Since 2005, Turkey has started the negotiations on 14 chapters.
Only one chapter could be opened in the past three years, mainly due to the Cyprus issue and the obstruction of the governments of Greece and France.