A Turkish official says his country feels betrayed by those European Union (EU) leaders who have called for an end to accession talks with Ankara, stressing, however, that Turkey will not be deterred from joining the bloc.
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik expressed disappointment with such European leaders as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others who have demanded that Ankara’s accession to the EU be blocked.
Merkel said earlier this month that it was clear Turkey should not join the EU and accession talks should end. Following suit, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said on Wednesday that he saw no prospect of Turkey joining the EU in “the foreseeable future.”
Other officials, including from Austria, have called for an end to accession talks with Turkey as well. They want Turkish membership blocked over a harsh crackdown by Turkish officials in the aftermath of an abortive coup that was launched in mid-2016.
Celik said, “We are indeed disappointed by Merkel and some others in the EU. At one of the hardest times in our history, we were left alone by our friends and allies,” apparently in reference to the coup attempt.
When asked if Turkey felt betrayed, he said, “Yes.”
Celik said the EU leaders were criticizing the Turkish government to deflect attention away from the bloc’s internal problems, such as Brexit, migration, and reform.
He suggested that a leaders’ summit of the EU and Turkey be called to improve relations.
Formally ending Turkey’s accession negotiations would require unanimity among EU states, which is lacking, though majority backing is enough to suspend them. EU leaders will discuss Turkey at a summit in Brussels in October, though no formal decision may come before next spring.
Turkey has been trying to accede to the EU since the late 1980s, and formal accession talks eventually started in 2005.
Despite the hostile rhetoric by some EU leaders, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini has made it clear that the talks with Ankara will continue.
The accession talks have effectively been halted since Turkey began the crackdown on supposed putschists in 2016.
The European Parliament voted in favor of halting the membership talks with Turkey in November 2016 over the crackdown.
In 2017, government-proposed reforms that turned Turkey’s political system into a presidential one compounded the problem.