World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik has slammed Austria on Wednesday for trying to freeze EU membership talks of Turkey.
“Calling for the suspension of Turkey’s EU membership talks is actually sabotaging the EU project,” Celik told reporters in Berlin, ahead of his official talks with his German counterpart.
“Wherever we see the emergence of a political movement calling for the suspension of Turkey’s EU membership talks, there we see that the far-right, racist, fascist and Islamophobic movements are becoming stronger. And this is actually undermining European values and weakening the EU institutions,” he said.
Celik has sharply criticized Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who insisted during an EU foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday to freeze Turkey’s EU membership talks, arguing that this would be the right response to recent political developments in the EU-candidate country.
“There is no difference between the rhetoric of the Austrian Foreign Minister and rhetoric of any racist party. In this respect we do not take his statements serious,” he said, accusing him for lacking vision.
Austrian Foreign Minister Kurz was isolated during the EU foreign ministers meeting, with no other minister backing his call for freezing Turkey’s EU membership talks. But he blocked the draft conclusions of the EU foreign ministers meeting and announced that his country would not give its consent to opening any new chapter in Turkey’s accession talks.
Despite Austria’s attempt to block Turkey’s EU process, Turkish minister Celik stressed on Wednesday that his government is maintaining the goal of full EU membership, and will continue reforms despite major security challenges faced due to the foiled July 15 coup attempt, terrorism and civil war in Syria.
He underlined that continuation of Turkey’s EU talks was in the interest of both sides to overcome differences on various issues.
Celik also argued that with major changes expected in international environment, Turkey’s strategic importance for the EU would become more visible next year.
Turkey started EU membership talks in 2005, but negotiations entered into a stalemate in 2007 due to the Cyprus issue and the opposition of several EU governments to its full membership.
As a candidate country, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters, which involve reforms and adoption of European standards, in various policy areas for its EU membership.
Since 2005, Turkey has started negotiations on sixteen chapters, but only one chapter could be successfully concluded.