The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker asserted on Tuesday that Turkey, which is causing serious worries around human rights and the rule of law, is now taking “a quantum leap away from Europe.” Whilst stressing that he had had “good relations” with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr Juncker declared that he now “suspected” Erdogan of wanting to push Europe to “say that it wanted to put an end to negotiations, to be able to assume responsibility for the European Union and not Turkey.” He added, as already alluded to, “Turkey is taking a quantum leap away from Europe.” He made this comment at a speech to European Union ambassadors.
The negotiations for Turkey’s membership of the EU launched in 2005, are now at a standstill. However the majority of European countries do not wish for the moment to move away from formal suspension, fearing that this will cause a definitive breakdown in relationships with a key partner on the crucial issues of migration and the anti-terrorism struggle.
Mr Juncker went on, “The issue is knowing whether we should end negotiations with Turkey. It is a purely a theoretical question, since there are no negotiations at the present time.”
He further said, “I would like us to conduct ourselves in such a way that the Turks comment that it is them, that is to say the ‘Erdogan system’, which is making Turkey’s membership of the EU impossible. This is my preferred result instead of us ending up in the same boat.” He said this before going on to insist, “The entire responsibility for this is on the Turkish side.”
Diplomatic relations between Ankara and Brussels have deteriorated significantly since the aborted coup d’état, in July 2016, in Turkey. These relations broke down further after the April referendum, which reinforced President Erdogen’s powers.
Turkey launched purges of an unprecedented magnitude against the assumed supporters of the Gülen movement. This was accused of being the instigator of the attempted coup d’état. More than 50,000 people were arrested and more than 100,000 sacked in successive waves.