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Turkey sets five-year deadline to join EU

May 16, 2018

In an interview with a German newspaper, Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag has called for Turkey's EU accession to be sped up. Negotiations have stalled recently following a power grab by the Turkish government.

Recep Akdag
Image: Imago/photothek

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag called for Turkey to become a member of the European Union by 2023, on the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic.

His comments, to German daily Die Welt, reaffirmed Turkey's frustration with the stalling of accession talks with Brussels.

Read more: EU: Turkey's membership hopes at an all-time low

The main points of the interview

  • Akdag called for the resumption of accession talks, which he said would create an "important new impetus" in Turkey.

  • He accused the EU of acting unfairly by allowing several Balkan countries to join first.

  • "Turkey deserves to join the EU earlier than any other candidate country. But political reasons prevent that," Akdag said.

  • When asked why Turkey was surprised about the EU stalling negotiations over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on dissent, he said: "Turkey has had an attempted coup and is regularly attacked by terrorists. That's why there are temporary emergency laws. We are disappointed with the Europeans. We expect them to do their homework."

  • He urged Germany to support calls for a reopening of EU accession talks.

  • When asked whether Ankara would threaten to send more Syrian refugees to European shores if the EU didn’t budge, he said: "Im not saying that now. But of course, there is always a line that shouldn't be crossed."

Read more: Erdogan: Turkey no longer needs EU membership but will not abandon talks

Thirteen year wait: Turkey-EU relations have been strained by the Ankara government’s power grab following the July 2016 failed coup. EU leaders believe Erdogan is steering his country away from democracy and European values. Therefore, its path to membership, which began in 2005, has become increasingly muddied.

Read more: Turkey-EU relations: Which countries are for or against Turkish accession?

Latest EU report critical of Turkey: Brussels last month warned that years of progress had been lost in Turkey's accession talks. It said Ankara was taking "major steps" in the wrong direction, and had "suffered serious relapses in the areas of justice, rule of law, fundamental rights and freedom of expression." It made Turkey's lifting of emergency rule a precursor to any progression on membership.