ANKARA, TURKEY – JUNE 13: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (L) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on June 13, 2017.
( Erçin Top – Anadolu Agency )
By Merve Yildizalp
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday reiterated his country’s willingness to continue talks with the EU on getting full membership.
Speaking during a joint news conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov in capital Ankara, he said, “Turkey is willing to pursue full membership talks with the EU and renew the Customs Trade [deal].”
He added that the EU could not “give a good account of itself” during Turkey’s April 16 constitutional referendum in terms of bilateral relations.
“We have entered a new process now,” Yildirim said. “The EU needs to revise its future vision and then make decisions.”
The Bulgarian prime minister, whose country has been part of the EU since 2007, appreciated Turkey’s role in hosting Syrian refugees.
“The deal between Turkey and the EU over handling the refugee crisis was the smartest thing to do then, and we want this deal to continue,” Borisov said.
“However, no border can handle 3-4 million refugees,” he said.
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal last March, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area that comprises mostly EU states.
In a joint statement on November 2015, the EU and Turkey confirmed their commitments to re-energize the accession process.
A year later, however, the European Parliament approved a non-binding motion to freeze EU-membership talks with Turkey, in response to post-coup investigations and recent developments in the country, including measures taken within the framework of the fight against the PKK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) terrorist groups.
Turkey applied for membership to the EU in 1987, while accession talks began in 2005.
Negotiations, however, hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue. Also, German and French governments opposed the country’s full EU membership.
To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.