What is the message behind freezing Turkey’s EU accession talks?

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a non-binding motion urging the European Commission and national governments to temporarily suspend EU accession talks with Turkey.

Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister said in a Twitter post ahead of the vote; “Obvious that many in European Parliament take a populist short-term rather than a strategic long-term approach to relations which Turkey.”

“It would be a strategic stupidity of the first order for the EU to unilaterally abandon its relationship with Turkey. We would all lose.” Carl Bildt said on Twitter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday also stressed the importance of maintaining dialogue with Turkey although she didn’t comment directly on the membership talks.

“We have an interest in cooperating with Turkey in a sensible way, but that doesn’t rule out addressing clearly what is alarming,” she said, published by Wall Street Journal.

Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik said related to the topic “We would respect the motion if it was constructive despite being critical [of Turkey]. However, this motion is politically inconsistent,” according to Anadolu Agency

Pointing out that it was a non-binding and non-legislative motion, the minister said:

“They adopted it for political purposes. Those who want to give us a message should know that the parliament’s message would not get through the Kapikule Border Gate [a crossing point between Turkey and the West].”

The Migrants Deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is currently hosting three million refugees on its territory and that if they all marched into Europe, the Europeans would not know what to do with them. He also reminded them that under the terms of Turkey’s refugee deal with the EU, the union pledged to provide six billion euros in aid over the course of several years, according to Russia Today

“As far as I can remember, until now the EU had only given 250-300 million Euros to Turkey so far,” President Erdogan said.

“There is a risk that the whole migrant deal could collapse by the end of the year,” says Murat Seyrek, a senior policy adviser at the Brussels-based think tank, European Foundation for Democracy, according to BBC

And, if the migrant deal fails, he warns there could be a security risk too as the jihadist group Islamic State continues to lose territory and power.

“Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq might come back to Europe through Turkey. Turkey and the EU need to co-operate,” he says. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that” “Other states pray that no refugees come to them,”, according to Greek Reporter.

“We abide by the agreement with the European Union and we expect Europe to do the same. If not, we will suspend our agreement with the EU on this issue,” he added.

More than 120,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece since the start of the year. But the near-total closure of Greece’s border with Macedonia has created a potentially dangerous backlog of migrants and refugees in the north of the country, sparking concern of a humanitarian crisis on Europe’s frontier.

Although Turkey has a readmission agreement with Greece, it has hardly been used in its 14-year history. Around 300 migrants were bussed back to Turkey this week.

Shanghai Pact

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), also known as the “Shanghai 5,” is a loose security and economic bloc led by Russia and China. The other formal members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

[The SCO] was established by five members, but then countries such as Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India also got involved,” he said.

Erdoğan has several times floated plans for Turkey to join the SCO, a move that could scupper its long-standing EU membership bid.

Turkish President criticized the EU for dragging its feet on lifting visa restrictions for Turkish citizens

“People from Latin American countries do not need visas, but Turks do,” he said, adding that the migrant deal that entailed a readmission agreement and visa liberalization would be rescinded if all clauses of the deal were not applied, according to Daily Sabah

Turkey began its EU accession talks in 2005.