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    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, October 3, 2016. Picture taken October 3, 2016.

    Erdogan Hits Out Over EU Talks as Austria Warns Turkey Will Never be Full Member

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    Turkish President Erdogan has told parliament his "patience is at and end" over EU membership negotiations, but Austria's foreign minister has hit back saying "it is not the goal that Turkey should join the EU as a full member," but there could be a "tailor-made partnership."

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week expressed his exasperation at the slow progress being made on talks on Turkey's accession into the European Union, as part of the migrant deal to relocate "irregular migrants" — those refused asylum — from Greece back to Turkey,

    During the opening of parliament in Ankara a few days ago, he demanded a clear decision of the Europeans about accession. "Our patience is at an end," Erdogan said. 

    However, Austria's Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, has told Die Welt newspaper that full membership of the EU will never come about, but that Turkey could have some form of associate membership. He claims he is not alone among EU foreign minister in saying it.

    "They say that the accession negotiations must continue, but there will be no accession at the end of the day. But, in my opinion, it is not the goal that Turkey should join the EU as a full member."  

    He went on to say that Turkey could be offered a "tailor-made partnership," as suggested by former Austrian Chancellor, Wolfgang Schussel.

    In Trouble

    The EU-Turkey talks have run into difficulties from the outset. The original offer — brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel — was put forward to stem the flow of migrants going through Turkey and flooding into Europe.

    Under the deal, the EU would give Turkey US$3.3 billion to take back irregular migrants from Greece and improve Turkish refugee camps, in return — on a one-for-one basis — for Syrian refugees from Turkey being relocated to EU member states.

    However, the deal immediately ran into trouble when the UN refugee agency and many NGOs declared that Turkey was not a safe "third country" for migrants to be returned to, under the Geneva Convention.

    ​Erdogan's increasing grip on power, clampdown on the media and opposition following the failed coup in July has led to many EU politicians saying Turkey does not meet the main criteria for being an EU member because of the union's provisions for media freedom, democratic values and freedom of speech.

    Moreover, Cyprus is increasingly blocking the accession talks. Nicosia does not want to give in until the Ankara government makes concessions to reunite the Islamic island, which has been divided into a Turkish and a Cypriot part for decades.

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    Tags:
    EU-Turkey migrant deal, EU-accession, refugee crisis, migrant crisis, EU membership, visa-free regime, European Commission, European Council, European Union, Sebastian Kurz, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Europe, Turkey, Cyprus
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