Germany: Keep ‘Door Open’ to Turkey Joining European Union

Merkel Erdogan Germany Turkey
Sean Gallup/Getty

The European Union (EU) should keep the door open for Turkey and its Islamist leader to join the bloc, Germany’s EU minister has insisted.

The nation first applied to join the open-borders club back in 1987, and its bid is been supported by current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said last year that Turkey should “move closer to Europe rather than moving away from us”.

If Turkey joined, it would be the second largest member state by population, giving it significant voting power, and meaning the free-movement bloc has borders with war-torn Syria.

Calls for Turkey’s accession to be halted have grown as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan moves to Islamise the once secular nation and crush political opposition and the free press.

Nevertheless, Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for the EU, seems undeterred, telling a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg: “It is in the hands of those responsible in Turkey to decide whether they want to be a member of this European community of values.”

He added: “I would suggest we do not slam the door shut. That would be a wrong signal towards those in Turkey who still long for European values.”

Just last month, Mr. Erdoğan confirmed membership of the EU remains a “strategic goal” for Turkey under his leadership.

“As Turkey, we have been continuing on our way with the goal of full membership (of the EU) despite all the mines that were planted on our path and barriers in front of us,” he told reporters at the end of March.

However, just days earlier, he had warned that “not a single European, not a single Westerner, will be able to take a step on the road safely anytime in the world” if the bloc did not bow to his demands that European governments stop blocking his Islamist ministers from holding rallies in the EU.

He also repeatedly threatened to scrap a deal with the EU to hold back the flow of Middle Eastern migrants, and flood Europe with tens of thousands of new arrivals, if they resisted the Islamist rallies.

Turkey regularly violates Greece’s airspace and territorial waters, and Turkish warships recently prevented an Italian oil prospecting ship from exploring waters around Cyprus, which remains partly occupied by Turkey after it invaded the island in the in 1970s.

Turkish membership of the European Union was strongly supported by Britain’s former prime minister David Cameron, who said he wanted to “pave the road from Ankara to Brussels”, and the subject proved to be an important long-term concern for Leave voters during the EU referendum.

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