With 16 years of negotiations still to be concluded, the final stages have seen the European Commission raise serious concerns about the membership application, but not enough to completely close the door. “The EU’s serious concerns about the continued deterioration of democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and the independence of the judiciary have not been addressed. There has been a further setback in many areas “, said the Commission.
The report went on to say: “Under the current circumstances Turkey’s accession negotiations are effectively at a standstill.”
Defending Ankara’s interests, Turkey’s foreign ministry said the report showed the European Union’s “two-tier approach”.
“Turkey maintains in the strongest terms its strategic choice of full membership in the EU,” the statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
He added: “It would be in everyone’s interest for the EU, taking into account our general common interests, to consider Turkey as a candidate country which negotiates, and not as a partner with which to have daily relations of give and take. “.
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With the potential for Turkey to geographically become the easternmost edge of the European Union, the geopolitical importance of such a nation joining the EU is multi-faceted.
Above all, Turkey would be the first predominantly Muslim country to join the Union.
Second, Turkey plays an important role in security matters, as the nation is a member of NATO, relations between Ankara, Brussels and Washington are kept in a delicate balance to avoid losing such a strategically placed asset.
With the conflict raging in the region, the third point to note is that Turkey could potentially become a ‘bridge to Europe’ for people fleeing conflict and civil war in regions such as Syria and Iraq. , both of which have borders with Turkey, as well as others including Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of North Africa.
Ankara says its security measures are necessary given the seriousness of the threats to Turkey, which shares land borders with Iraq and Syria.
There is also the ongoing repression against the Kurdish populations in Turkey, Erdogan having once said: âWe are a government that has trampled on all kinds of nationalism.
Supporting this rhetoric, Erdogan also sought to ban the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) because of its militant ties and to come closer to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to maintain Kurdish support for his PKK party.
As the EU continues to struggle to maintain its grip on existing member states, the introduction and candidacy of new members is something that appears to be a desperate takeover by Brussels, which although the Commission claims not to being its final choice, (i.e. left to the remaining 27 members), is something that will be used to embolden the power of the EU, across a geographic bridge that has yet to be crossed.