Turkey Will Have ‘Minimum Dialogue’ with New EU President Austria, Report Says
Turkey is going to keep its dialogue with Austria, the member state which has just assumed the rotating EU Presidency, to the bare minimum, according to a media report citing unnamed Turkish officials.
The report comes against the backdrop of repeated statements by Austria’s rightist Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and other senior government officials that Turkey’s already stalled EU accession talks should be terminated altogether.
On July 1, 2018, Austria took over the rotating six-month Presidency of the European Union from Bulgaria.
Turkey does not expect any major dealings with the new EU President during Austria’s term, even on crucial issues such as the migrant crisis, Turkish edition Hurriyet Daily News reports, citing an anonymous Turkish official.
Predicting “minimum dialogue” between Turkey and Austria, the official said the former would focus on adopting legislation necessary to meet the requirements for beginning the process for its visa liberalization with the EU.
The forecast comes as Turkey is about to shut down its EU ministry, transferring its responsibilities to the Foreign Ministry.
Having first applied in 1987, Turkey has been negotiating for accession to the EU since 2005. However, only 16 of the 35 chapters needed for admission in the Union have been opened, and only one has been fully negotiated and closed.
The Turkey – EU talks have ground to a halt as a result of purges in Turkey under President Recep Erdogan following a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
Just before that, in March 2016, the EU and Turkey stroke a deal on stemming the influx of migrants into the European Union, with promises of visa-free travel to the EU for Turkish citizens.
Among the EU’s six remaining criteria for visa liberalization is a requirement that Turkey change its anti-terrorism legislation.
Yet, according to the cited Turkish official, during the six-month Austrian Presidency of the EU, Ankara will be speaking with the European Commission, rather than with Austria, on the visa liberalization process.
Another unnamed Turkish diplomat is quoted as saying that Turkey is not willing to collaborate with Austria on the migration issue, as leading Austrian politicians have declared themselves against Ankara’s EU membership bid.
Because of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, the report in the Turkish daily describes Austria as “the only western European country to have a far-right party in government”.
What is more, EU leaders stated in Brussels last week that since Turkey failed to meet a number of EU criteria, no new accession negotiation chapters could be opened, a position criticized by Ankara.
“There are areas where we can work together, but opening chapters or not is a political issue. We expect better cooperation in the next term, once Austria’s presidency is over,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reacted.
“I don’t think there will be positive steps taken during Austria’s term presidency. We spoke at length with the Austrian foreign minister, but unfortunately, the current chancellor is even more extreme than the far-right party,” he added.
Yet, in his words, the issue of visa liberalization and amending Turkey’s Customs Union deal with the EU will be discussed with EU officials during the Austrian Presidency. Romania is scheduled to take over the European Council helm from Austria on January 1, 2019.
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