Author: MAÏA DE LA BAUME
Two top EU leaders on Wednesday slammed the Turkish government for comparing some EU countries to Nazis and said Ankara was moving further away from membership of the bloc.
EU-Turkey ties soured further last week when Dutch authorities barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from landing in Rotterdam after a political rally at which he was slated to appear was canceled. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by saying “Nazism is still widespread in the West.”
Speaking to a debate at European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Erdoğan’s comments had “scandalized” him, and would keep Turkey far from its goal of EU membership.
“I will never accept this comparison,” Juncker said. “If you are establishing that comparison — the one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe, not trying to enter the EU.”
“The European union is not joining Turkey, Turkey is joining the EU,” he added.
European Council President Donald Tusk echoed Juncker’s sentiment, saying that anyone who believed Rotterdam authorities were Nazis was “completely detached from reality.”
Turkey is set to vote on a referendum over constitutional amendments designed to consolidate Erdoğan’s already formidable powers. Authorities in several EU countries including Austria, Germany and the Netherlands have taken issue with political rallies targeting local Turkish populations taking place within their borders.
Turkey applied for EU membership for the first time in 1987, but Erdoğan’s increasing moves toward authoritarianism since the failed July coup have made negotiations tense.
In November, the European Parliament voted in favor of suspending membership talks over the president’s post-coup crackdown.