16:00 GMT19 January 2021
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    Turkey’s EU accession process appears to have hit another roadblock, with EU ministers saying they would not push ahead with Ankara’s bid for membership. This comes amid an Austrian appeal to go further and freeze the process altogether, citing the recent security crackdown in Turkey.

    With EU foreign and Europe ministers meeting for talks in Brussels, a number of officials agreed that membership talks with Turkey could not continue in the current climate, however many argued against Austrian and European Parliament calls to scrap Ankara's accession process.

    "It is needed to go further on some collaboration with Turkey, it is true for fight against terrorism, capacity to exchange information on fighters, also to manage together the migration issue," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said.

    ​"About the accession process, it is true that it's impossible now to go further with such a very difficult situation in Turkey… we will say certainly that it is impossible to open new chapters for the accession process."

    France's Europe Minister Harlem Desir agreed with his Belgian counterpart, calling for "a demanding, clear and firm dialogue on the principles and values which are those of Europe."

    Calls for Freezing of Talks

    The talk about the EU's relationship with Turkey comes after Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz called for the EU to take a harder line and freeze Ankara's membership talks, arguing that the actions of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government since July's failed coup were not up to European standards.

    Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz
    © REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger
    Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz

    "Accession talks with Turkey have to be put on hold… Turkey has drifted away from Europe more and more and, over the past months, this development has increased in terms of drama and speed," Kurz said ahead of the talks.

    ​The bloc has criticized Turkey's security crackdown following July's failed coup, with authorities jailing more than 36,000 people pending a trial, while more than 100,000 others have been either sacked or suspended from their jobs as a result of their alleged support of the plotters.

    The crackdown has also seen media organizations targeted and some opposition politicians arrested over alleged links to terror groups, leading to concerns in Europe that the Erdogan government is using the coup an a trigger to silence internal opposition.

    These actions led the European Parliament to last month call for a freeze on membership talks.

    Migration Deal

    Chief among European concerns is the potential impact any such freeze in accession talks would have on the EU-Turkey migration deal, considered by Brussels to be crucial to stemming the flow of refugees and migrants into the continent.

    ​Turkish President Erdogan has threatened to scrap the deal and release thousands people into Europe if talks brake down — a move that would almost certainly lead to the triggering of a fresh migration crisis.

    EU leaders will meet for talks on Thursday, with the progress of the EU-Turkey migration deal to be among the items discussed.


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    EU-accession, EU membership, tensions, diplomacy, migration, EU-Turkey migrant deal, European Union, Didier Reynders, Harlem Desir, Sebastian Kurz, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Europe, Turkey
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