EU officials in Turkey to kickstart faltering membership talks

EU officials in Turkey to kickstart faltering membership talks
The EU's Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn is among those involved in Ankara talks, but earlier said it would be "more honest" to give up on Turkey's bid.
2 min read
22 November, 2018
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with EU counterpart Federica Mogherini [Getty]

The EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn landed in Ankara on Thursday to renew long-stalled membership talks.

Hahn said on Twitter that the two parties would address priority issues, including rule of law and human rights, during Thursday's meetings in the Turkish capital.

Their visit comes days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signalled Turkey would not abide by a European Court of Human Rights ruling calling for the release of a jailed, former pro-Kurdish opposition leader. His words deepened concerns about human rights and the rule of law in the country, despite the country's pledge this summer to undertake reforms.

Earlier this month, Hahn said it would be "more honest" for the EU to give up on membership talks with Turkey.

Meanwhile, last month Erdogan again suggested that a referendum could be held to decide whether Ankara will continue to pursue EU membership.

Turkey began membership negotiations in 2005 but talks have made little progress.

The EU largely depends on Turkey to curtail the flow of migrants into Europe but has deep concerns over human rights in Turkey particularly after the 2016 failed coup attempt.

Turkish authorities have arrested around 80,000 people over alleged links to the plotters of the 2016 coup attempt. An additional 150,000 people have also been suspended or sacked from the public sector, including judges, soldiers and police. 

The migrant deal itself has been criticised by the UN and human rights groups, which argue that such arbitrary and collective expulsions of migrants from EU member Greece to Turkey is illegal.

Erdogan has also repeatedly blamed anti-Muslim sentiment as a driving force behind Ankara's slow progress towards EU membership.

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