Turkish minister says Ankara feels betrayed by EU over accession process

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Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik attends a press conference in Tallinn, Estonia on September 8, 2017 during a meeting of EU defence ministers. / AFP PHOTO / RAIGO PAJULA

Turkish EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik on Thursday said Turkey feels betrayed by European Union leaders who have called for the end of accession talks but that it still hopes to eventually join the bloc.

Speaking with Reuters in an interview, Çelik criticized EU leaders over their statements on Turkish accession and said some, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were using the criticism to deflect attention away from the EU’s internal problems like Brexit, migration and reform.

They put all those aside and they stoke antagonism toward Turkey in order to cover up their vital internal problems,” Çelik said.

When asked if Turkey felt betrayed, he said: “Yes” and added, “The EU has failed to keep all of its promises whereas Turkey has delivered on all of the promises it made.”

Merkel said in an election debate 10 days ago that it was clear Turkey should not join the EU and accession talks should end, despite it being a crucial NATO ally.

If Germany keeps giving orders to the EU institutions – such as cutting negotiations with Turkey – then it will strengthen the hand of racist groups in Europe,” Çelik said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics in March when it prevented Turkish ministers from speaking at referendum rallies in Germany.

On Wednesday Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said he saw no prospect of Turkey joining the EU in “the foreseeable future”.

What has Mr Junker done, what giant strides has he made, to find solutions to bring the EU and Turkey closer? That is my question for Mr Juncker,” Çelik said during interview.

Suggesting that a leaders summit of the EU and Turkey be called to improve relations, Çelik said: “Turkey has not given up on its target to be a full member of the EU. We are eager and willing to find solutions to move forward.”

EU leaders will discuss Turkey at a summit in Brussels in October, though any formal decision on its future may not come before next spring.

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