After Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz made good on his promise to veto European Union membership talks for Turkey, the country has vowed to retaliate.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu has slammed the actions of his Austrian counterpart during an interview with Turkish television. He said that Turkey would look to confront the alpine country and “will fight against Austria at all levels” due to the delay in Turkish accession talks that could lead eventually to full membership of the EU, reports Die Presse.
Mr. Cavusoglu said on Thursday, “I will not discuss with Austria, whose parliament takes decisions against us, and whose media reports badly about us”. The Turkish government had previously taken issue with Austrian paper Kronen Zeitung after they reported that the Turkish supreme court had repealed legislation which effectively lowered the sexual age of consent to as low as twelve.
The Kronen Zeitung article led to a diplomatic spat between the two countries after the headline was broadcast over the news ticker at Vienna International airport.
Cavusoglu again repeated the threat that if Austria and Europe did not change their minds on continuing the membership negotiations then Turkey would cancel the EU-Turkey migrant agreement which could see thousands of migrants cross into Greece per day.
The Turkish Foreign Minister also complained that Turkish citizens had not been granted visa-free access to the EU which was a part of the migrant deal saying, “first it should have happened in June, then in October, we are still discussing it”.
Reacting to the comments by Mr. Cavusoglu, Mr. Kurz said, “We have a clear opinion on the issues of EU accession, freedom of the press, and the independence of the judiciary” – issues that Austria has criticised the Turkish government for in the aftermath of the failed coup in the summer.
Last month, Mr. Kurz made his position clear on Turkey saying, “Over recent years Turkey has moved further and further away from the EU, but our policy has remained the same. That can’t work. What we need are clear consequences.” He added, “In Turkey, opposition figures are being arrested, journalists are being persecuted, officials are being fired if they think differently and the return of the death penalty is being talked about.”
Tensions between the two countries have simmered for years as Austria has been the most vocal member of the EU against the idea of Turkish membership. The large Turkish population in Austria has also complicated matters after members of the community took to the streets in Vienna to support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan immediately after the coup attempt and reports have alleged the Turkish spy agency has a large network in the country.