Turkey calls on EU to take membership perspective 'like it did for Balkan nations'
Ankara has called on Europe to take a perspective on Turkey's EU membership like it did for Balkan countries, EU Minister Ömer Çelik has said, criticizing "continued double-standards on Turkey’s accession bid."
“We welcome the perspective given to Balkan countries. It’s necessary to cement peace in the Balkans. But I want to draw your attention to a double standard. Balkan countries have been told ‘You will join the EU by 2025.’ Unfortunately, Turkey was never given the same perspective during its 50 year-long negotiation process,” Çelik said on Feb. 20 in his address on the occasion of the Turkey-EU Joint Consultative Commission meeting in Adana.
“I openly say: This approach towards Turkey is fully political. We don’t want to hear about technical explanations for it. I challenge them from here: We are ready to open and close all chapters in case we would be provided full membership perspective for the year of 2019 or 2020. We are ready to fulfill all preparations,” the minister said.
There cannot be any meaningful explanation of the 50-year delay of Turkey’s process while introducing full membership perspective to Balkan countries by 2025, said Çelik.
“Plus, Turkey is much more European than all these countries mentioned. We are not new in Europe,” he said.
Turkey-EU summit should open a new page in ties
Recalling that a Turkey-EU Summit would take place in late March, the minister stressed hopes that it would open a new page in Ankara-Brussels ties. He also cited the idea of ending Turkey’s accession process while deepening cooperation on transactional matters, which has been suggested by some in the country.
“The foundation of Turkey-EU ties is accession negotiations and full membership. A second model or privilege partnership will be out of question. The only model is full membership,” Çelik said.
Turkey is ready to open chapters 23 and 24 on fundamental freedoms, judiciary issues and to discuss freedom of expression and judicial independence, the minister said.
“Turkey should protect its full EU membership perspective,” he added.