EU’s Hahn says Turkey joining EU ‘unrealistic’ under Erdoğan

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PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO - DECEMBER 08 : European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Montenegro's Prime Minister Dusko Markovic (not seen) hold a press conference after their meeting in Podgorica, Montenegro on December 08, 2016. AFP

Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, has said the prospect of Turkey joining the EU is becoming “more and more unrealistic” under the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Hahn said he couldn’t rule out the fact that the EU may soon halt accession talks with Turkey, he told the Bild newspaper in an interview published Monday evening.

A continuation of those talks is only possible if there are “substantial advances in the area of the rule of law,” he said, but the authoritarian tendencies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the planned constitutional changes towards a presidential system were “a departure from Europe.”

Turkey is a candidate to join the EU, although the membership negotiations have made little progress over the past decade. The country has become a vital partner in a deal with the EU to curb the passage of migrants and refugees from Turkey into Europe.

Hahn also said he saw no chance for the introduction of visa-free travel for Turks in the EU, one of the promises under the EU-Turkey deal struck to stop the migrant influx into the Union, because Ankara had refused to fulfill essential conditions.

In recent weeks, Ankara and several European countries have been involved in a diplomatic row after Turkish ministers were not allowed to campaign in some cities ahead of the April referendum.

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