Turkey will stay in Customs Union despite Berlin: Şimşek
ANKARA - Anadolu AgencyTurkey cannot be expelled from the Customs Union even if Germany sought it, Turkey’s deputy prime for the economy said late on Sept. 5.
Speaking on the state-run channel TRT Haber, Mehmet Şimşek stated that he believes many countries in the EU will act with common sense.
“Turkey hasn’t been a burden on anyone so far. Europe’s future without Turkey is unthinkable,” he added.
“I believe many great sensible leaders will keep this case in their minds and keep off this dangerous path because it would harm everyone. In this scenario everyone loses. Both Turkey and the EU would suffer harm,” he added.
On Turkish-EU relations, he said Turkey is not a new actor in Europe and expressed astonishment at how it is being used as domestic political fodder in some European countries.
“Hopefully, things will be in good sense once the election atmosphere ends” after this fall’s German and Austrian polls, he said, adding that efforts to poison ties and atmosphere between Turkey and the EU should be blocked.
Separately, Şimşek stated that millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey are having a big impact on Turkish cities, and Turkey is looking to ease the impact through infrastructure investments and measures for various services including education and health.
Turkey now hosts some 3 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.
Şimşek’s remarks follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement last month about possibly suspending Turkish-EU talks on updating the Customs Union.
In mid-August, in an interview with bloggers ahead of the Sept. 24 elections, Merkel signaled that due to recent political tensions, the EU would not enter talks with Ankara on modernizing the Customs Union.
Despite not being a member of the EU, Turkey has had a Customs Union agreement with the bloc since 1995.