EU state dubs Turkish membership ‘unimaginable’
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has urged the EU to acknowledge that Türkiye does not stand a chance of ever becoming a member of the bloc. He emphasized the need to discontinue the stagnant accession process while suggesting that Brussels explores alternative avenues to deepen its relationship with Ankara.
In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper published on Tuesday, Nehammer said: “We are for further convergence between Ankara and Brussels, but Türkiye’s full membership in the EU is not imaginable for us.”
“It is important that we treat each other honestly, and that also means to formally end the accession negotiations that have been frozen for years and to develop a new concept for neighborly cooperation,” the head of government clarified. The Austrian chancellor emphasized that Ankara remains an essential partner of the EU.
Speaking during a joint press conference with European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi last Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called for accelerating the accession process.
“Without Türkiye, the European Union cannot be a really global actor,” the diplomat warned at the time.
In July, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock predicted that Türkiye would be unlikely to join the European Union anytime soon. The minister said that the accession process was “in deep freeze” due to Ankara’s apparent failure to meet “important [criteria] that are essential for these talks.” She mentioned the rule of law and human rights among the issues preventing the country’s progress.
Baerbock added that Brussels should base its relations with Türkiye on a “strategic and forward-looking approach” while avoiding naivety.
Her assessment was echoed by European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano that same month. He told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper that the “process of joining the EU takes years, not hours,” noting that the bloc was not planning to grant Ankara visa-free status for the time being.
These comments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked unblocking Sweden’s NATO bid with progress on his country’s accession to the EU.
“Türkiye has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the NATO member countries are now members of the European Union,” he stated at the time.
Ankara applied for EU membership in 1987 and was granted candidate status 12 years later. The accession talks that got underway in 2005 have effectively been frozen since 2016.