Austrian chancellor says Turkey’s EU membership is impossible

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Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern arrives for an European Union leaders summit at the European Council, in Brussels, on June 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Aurore BELOT

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has said Turkey’s European Union membership is impossible, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported on Tuesday.

Kern’s remarks came on Tuesday, the day of a meeting between Turkish and EU officials in Brussels.

Referring to the worsening legal situation in Turkey, Kern said: “I believe that Turkey’s EU membership is impossible and that an extension of the customs union is only conceivable if Turkey meets the tough legal requirements of being a state of law.”

Kern stated that Turkey should take steps to move closer to Europe since Europe is not financially dependent on Turkey.

The enlargement of the customs union is useless as long as Cumhuriyet daily journalists are standing trial, and opposition deputy Enis Berberoğlu is serving a lengthy prison sentence for doing his job, added Kern.

According to the EU, since the implementation of the customs union agreement in 1995, the volume of trade between the EU and Turkey has quadrupled. Forty percent of Turkey’s foreign trade is with the EU, while one-third of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Turkey is from EU companies. Germany accounts for 10 percent of foreign trade, with an investment of 12 billion euros in Turkey.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria. Berberoğlu has been held in Maltepe Prison since June 14.

Seventeen Cumhuriyet daily journalists and executives were arrested in November 2016 on charges of aiding “terrorist groups.”

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