Commission urges ‘different type of relations’ with Turkey

"Such kind of legislation should not hamper the work of the NGOs," EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn told journalists. [European Commission]

The European Union executive urged EU governments yesterday (24 April) to consider changing its relationship with Turkey after a referendum that handed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sweeping powers put Ankara’s stalled membership talks deeper into cold storage.

Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is responsible for negotiations with countries wanting to join the bloc, called on EU foreign ministers when they meet in Malta on Friday to consider a new format for relations with Turkey, one that could ease mutual frustrations and reinforce cooperation.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” Hahn said.

He added that he did not want to prejudge discussions among the member states on whether they should suspend Turkey’s accession request, which they accepted in 2005. Hahn’s native Austria has been among the most prominent advocates of a freeze.

Austrian chancellor wants EU to end accession talks with Turkey

Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday called on the European Union to end membership talks with Turkey in the wake of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup.

This is not the first time that Hahn has raised the issue of the non-viable negotiations with Turkey.

Hahn wants ‘clear mandate’ to discuss if EU-Turkey relations have a future

Neighbourhood Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is also responsible of enlargement negotiations, said today (9 November) that faced with the pressure of some political groups and some member states to freeze the negotiations with Turkey, he wants a clear mandate to discuss the issue with Ankara.

In the meantime, Turkey has also expressed the wish to review EU ties “from A to Z”.

Erdogan says Turkey will review EU ties ‘from A to Z’

Turkey will review all political and administrative ties with the European Union after an April referendum, including a deal to curb illegal migration, but will maintain economic relations with the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday (23 March).

Turkey’s relations with the European Union have meanwhile become particularly acrimonious after Germany and the Netherlands cancelled planned campaign rallies on their territory by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for a ‘yes’ vote in the April vote.

Both cited security concerns for their decision, but Erdoğan has accused them of using “Nazi methods” and trampling on free speech.

Germany says Erdogan has 'gone too far' with Nazi jibe

Germany angrily warned Turkey yesterday (19 March) that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had gone too far after he accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of using “Nazi measures” in an escalating diplomatic feud.

Some other states fear Turkey could act on threats to end a year-old agreement which has stemmed the flow of migrants to Greece and on to Germany. However, many in the EU believe Ankara has good reasons, including the financial aid that is part of the deal, not to stop cooperating on migration.

Turkey threatens EU on migrant deal as Erdogan blasts 'spirit of fascism'

Turkey on Wednesday (15 March) threatened once again to scrap a critical deal on halting the flow of migrants to the EU amid a spiralling war of words between Ankara and the bloc.

The European Commission and its member states have grown increasingly sceptical of Turkey’s accession process as Erdoğan has cracked down on opponents and sought to increase his power. Turkey also questions the value of a process which few in Europe have seen leading to membership in the foreseeable future.

Hahn said he shared the concerns of the Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights body, which said Erdoğan’s constitutional changes were a “dangerous step backwards” for Turkish democracy. But he said the European Union could look at reinforcing cooperation with Turkey in areas other than EU membership that could benefit both sides.

Commission ‘seriously concerned’ about Turkish constitutional changes

The European Commission highlighted the “serious concerns” expressed by the Council of Europe on Monday (13 March) over the amendments to the Turkish Constitution which are due to be voted on in the 16 April referendum.

The Commission has been looking at updating its customs union arrangements with Ankara. Hahn stressed that whatever relationship the EU might have with Turkey, including economic ones, its respect for the rule of law would remain crucial.

Turkey threatens to send Europe '15,000 refugees a month'

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has threatened to “blow the mind” of Europe by sending 15,000 refugees a month to EU territory, in an intensifying dispute with the bloc.