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Austrian chancellor calls for end to EU membership talks with Turkey

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, a member of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), has called for officially ending EU membership negotiations with Turkey, which have been frozen for five years, although Turkey has recently reiterated its desire to join the bloc.

The remarks of Nehammer, who has been serving as Austria’s chancellor since December 2021, were made during an interview with the German Die Welt daily published on Monday.

“We are in favor of further rapprochement between Ankara and Brussels, but we cannot imagine full membership in the EU for Turkey,” he told Die Welt, adding that there must be a new partnership between the EU and Turkey, the basis of which is mutual trust and cooperation on economic and political issues.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has called for his country’s accession process to the EU to be accelerated. At a joint press conference with EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi in Ankara on Wednesday, Fidan urged more courage from Europe so that relations can be deepened.

Fidan said the European Union cannot be a truly global player without Turkey and that the accession process must be reinvigorated.

Turkey was officially recognized as a candidate for full EU membership in December 1999, and accession negotiations began in December 2005. Since 2018, talks have been frozen due to ongoing violations of the rule of law and fundamental democratic rights in Turkey. Sixteen of the 35 negotiating chapters have been opened, but only one has been closed so far.

“It is important that we treat each other honestly, and this also includes formally ending the accession negotiations that have been frozen for years as well as developing a new concept for neighborly cooperation,” said Nehammer.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan surprised many in July when he said he would only back Sweden’s NATO candidacy if the European Union resumes the long-stalled membership talks with Ankara.

His unexpected demand came on the eve of a NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius at which Western leaders wanted to display unity in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Ankara secured a pledge from Brussels to resurrect stalled membership negotiations in exchange for lifting its blockade of Sweden’s drive to join the NATO military alliance.

EU chief Charles Michel said last month that the bloc should get ready to admit new members from eastern Europe and the Balkans by 2030.

Turkey’s membership is not currently on the agenda of the expansion wave.

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