Turkey further away from European Union accession 'than ever before' - German FM

21 March, 2017, 00:47 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Turkish minister decries EU's 'senseless' demands to continue fulfilling refugee deal

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, a hardliner who is close to Erdogan, threatened to "blow the mind" of Europe by sending over 15,000 refugees a month. Under that agreement, Greek officials were obliged to send all refugees that tried to cross into Europe through Greece back to Turkey. "The number of refugees is growing day by day in Turkey and the EU's financial assistance as part of the readmission agreement between the European Union and Turkey is more important than ever", Colakoglu noted.

The Turkish government seeks to rally support from Turks overseas for an April referendum on a constitutional reform bill that would boost Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's power. "All of this is under our hands", said Turkey's top diplomat during a televised interview.

But Cavusoglu's remarks on TV 24 channel came only three days before the one-year anniversary of a deal brokered between Brussels and Ankara that would allow for irregular migrants in Greece, the starting point of the trek to northern Europe, to be returned to Turkey in exchange for Syrian refugees hosted on Turkish soil.

In addition bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany to drum up support for Erdogan have also caused anger.

Gabriel said Erdogan was taking advantage of a sentiment many people of Turkish origin have in Germany that they are neither accepted nor welcomed, but failed to address why these European citizens of Turkish background may feel this way.

Other Turkish politicians, on the other hand, urged calmness to resolve this explosive crisis with Europe, such as the leader of the nationalists in the parliament, Devlet Bahceli.

"(Erdogan's) announcement makes clear that he isn't interested in joining at all", said Oppermann.

"Migrants should not be used as a diplomatic weapon. Did you provide support to Turkey in its fight against terrorism?"

The EU, although voicing its grave concern over the reforms, called on Turkey early this week to refrain from using excessive statements and actions that would risk further exacerbating the situation.

European Union officials have repeatedly warned Turkey that restoring capital punishment would spell the end of its decades-long bid to join the bloc.

He has particularly needled Germany and the Netherlands by saying their behaviour was reminiscent of Nazi Germany. "We have done everything for that and the Turkish people are fed up of waiting", he said, preferring to stay anonymous. Formal EU accession talks began in 2005, but the process has been plagued by problems.

"Hey Rutte! You may have emerged as the No. 1 party in the election but you must know that you have lost Turkey as your friend", he said.

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