‘EU BLACKMAIL’ Brussels using dirty tactics over Turkey’s bid to join bloc, says Ankara | World | News

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It comes after anger from Brussels at the nation’s actions in response to a failed coup – which raised major human rights concerns.

Omer Celik, 49, Turkey’s former minister of culture and tourism, said: “Using the EU negotiating process as a way to blackmail Turkey is weakening and discrediting the EU institutions.”

He notably exempted Britain from his criticism, saying that the UK was a reliable ally after the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.

Mr Celik said: “The UK is acting as a real ally, a role model, standing with Turkey in the initial days after the coup attempt and helping to strengthen Turkey’s defence capacity.

“The British, like ourselves, aim to find a way forward in relations. With other countries, it’s not about finding a way forward, it’s about finding tools to blackmail us.”

The comments come after the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that Turkey had taken “giant strides” away from the EU and had no prospect of joining the bloc for the foreseeable future.

Mr Juncker said: “For some considerable time, Turkey has been moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds.

“Journalists belong in editorial offices amid heated debate and not in prison.

“I appeal today to the powers that be in Turkey: Let our journalists go.

“Stop calling our member states and members of governments fascists and Nazis.

“Europe is a continent of mature democracy, those who knowingly offend pull up the drawbridge and sometimes I have the impression that there are those in Turkey who want to pull up the drawbridge and later blame the European Union for the failure of accession negotiations.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a televised election debate earlier this month: “The fact is clear that Turkey should not become an EU member.”

Mr Celik told the Financial Times: “It was as if they had entered a contest to find the best way to keep Turkey at a distance and harm Turkey.

“To Mr Juncker and to Germany, I strongly suggest that we should have some Turkish coffee diplomacy.”

He added that they should give a renewed impulse to Turkey’s membership bid by opening chapters 23 and 24 of the accession process, which cover the judiciary, fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security.

While Turkey’s bid has not yet entirely failed it is, effectively, in cold storage with the EU keeping its distance after the coup and the ensuing crackdown by the authorities which saw ten of thousands imprisoned and people sacked from public sector jobs.

Turkey and the EU have also fallen out over the issue of curbing the flow of refugees and migrants from Turkey into mainland Europe.

Mr Celik claimed yesterday that the EU had not kept its promises over the issue – the promise of £2.64 billion (€3billion) in aid, the visa liberalisation for Turks nor the opening of more talks over Turkey’s membership bid.

The EU though has contested those claims, saying it has already paid out £714 million (€811 million) and Christian Berger, the EU ambassador to Ankara, saying that in June almost the entire budget would be allocated.



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