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Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik
Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik

Turkey would reject any offer of partnership with the European Union that falls short of membership, Ankara’s minister for EU affairs said, warning that the current impasse gave Turkey no reason to maintain its migrant deal with the bloc.

In an interview with Reuters, Omer Celik batted back recent comments from French president Emmanuel Macron, who has mentioning the possibility of a partnership rather than full EU membership. Developments in Turkey did not allow for progress in its decades-long push to join the bloc, Macron has said.

“A privileged partnership or similar approaches, we don’t take any of these seriously. Turkey cannot be offered such a thing,” Celik said, adding:

Whatever it would be called, a privileged partnership or cooperation against terrorism, such an offer will not even be considered by Turkey.

Opinion: Will Turkey ever be part of the European Union?

The EU has expressed concern over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed 2016 coup. Around 50,000 people have been arrested pending trial and 150,000, including teachers, journalists and judges, sacked or suspended from work. President Tayyip Erdogan says the crackdown is necessary to counter the multiple security threats Turkey faces.

Turkey has said it wants a better ties with Germany in 2018. Nonetheless, Europe’s negotiations with Ankara have remained frozen since December 2016, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who oversees EU membership bids, told Reuters this week, adding there were no talks on a proposed free-trade deal.

Hahn also played down Ankara’s overtures about a fresh start in 2018.

“Nothing has changed,” he said. “It is good that Turkey understands we need a functioning relationship and that Turkey is not just President Erdogan. But the accession process is essentially frozen and for many member states, they feel it is best to leave it that way.”

Read: Turkey does not need Europe but Europe needs us, says Erdogan

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