Turkey will not accept anything less than full EU membership, warns minister

Turkey will not accept anything less than full EU membership, warns minister
2 min read
19 January, 2018
Ankara retaliates to Emmanuel Macron's suggestion that Turkey and the EU could form a 'partnership deal' short of full membership amid human rights concerns.
Omer Celik criticised the pace of its EU membership process [Getty]
Turkey will not accept any partnership deal with the European Union that does not amount to full membership, its minister for EU affairs told Reuters on Friday.

Omer Celik added that the migrant deal it struck with the bloc in 2016, which promised in return to speed up its EU accession process, was not working and Turkey had no reason to maintain it.

"A privileged partnership or similar approaches, we don’t take any of these seriously. Turkey cannot be offered such a thing," Celik told Reuters in an interview.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron recently brought up the possibility for Turkey to have a partnership-type agreement, in lieu of full EU membership, criticising developments in Turkey that put its decades-long effort to join the EU in question.

The EU itself has also expressed concern over Turkey's authoritarian rule, in particular the continued crackdown on suspected supporters of the failed 2016 coup. It is estimated that 50,000 people have been arrested pending trial and 150,000, including teachers, journalists and judges, sacked or suspended from work.

Celik criticised the EU for not honouring all the points of the 2016 deal, whereby Turkey would take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece, in a bid to reduce their incentive to get to Europe, in return for €3 billion of financial aid, as well as giving Turkish nationals visa-free access to the Schengen zone and to revive Turkey's EU accession process.

Celik said that the financial aid was "not working well", and that no new efforts had been made in Turkey’s EU membership application, and also that there had been no development on striking a Turkish-EU customs deal.

"Technically there’s no reason for Turkey to maintain this deal," Celik said.

Turkey has threatened many times to scrap its part of the migrant deal, claiming that the EU's promises of freedom of movement and financial aid are not being realised.

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

Agencies contributed to this report