Turkish PM Yıldırım asks EU to speed up accession process

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ATHENS, GREECE - JUNE 19: Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim meets Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras (not seen), in Athens, Greece on June 19, 2017. AFP

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said Turkey “sincerely” wants to join the European Union and asked the EU to move more quickly in the accession process.

Yıldırım’s remarks came during a press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Diken news website reported on Friday.

Yıldırım, who brought to mind the 40-year-long relationship between the EU and Turkey, said Turkey has a “very clear” perspective on joining the EU. “Turkey sincerely wants to join the EU. A decision was reached during the May 25 Brussels meetings of the esteemed president [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan]. ‘Let’s leave the past behind and prepare a working program for one year,’ they said. Johannes Hahn [European commissioner of European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations] is coming to Turkey in a few days. We are sincere, but since this is taking so long, the possibility of it becoming reality is being questioned. It would be useful if the EU were to act more quickly,” he said.

President Erdoğan demanded that the EU open new chapters in Turkey’s accession process after a presidential referendum in April that expanded his powers, to which EU replied that it was not on their agenda.

Turkey’s relations with the EU dramatically deteriorated following a failed coup last summer due to mass purges in state jobs, detentions and the arrest of dissidents in Turkey.

The Turkish government declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the coup attempt, which is still in effect and allows the government to press ahead with many controversial anti-coup measures.

Relations were further strained after several EU countries banned Turkish ministers from holding rallies in European cities for the referendum.

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