Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Sunday that the European Union, which is now in a position to suspend membership talks with Turkey after European Parliament lawmakers voted in its favor, cannot afford to lose Turkey.
Speaking at the Turkish Embassy in London during a three-day visit on Sunday, Kurtulmuş said the EU’s failure to start a visa liberalization process for Turkish citizens, which it promised to Turkey as part of a migrant deal in March, has created a sense of betrayal on the Turkish side.
Turkey and the EU signed a migrant deal in March that aimed to discourage irregular migration via the Aegean Sea by taking measures against human smugglers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. In return, the EU promised it would accelerate Turkey’s membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen zone.
“They will have to make their decisions and take steps to maintain negotiations with Turkey on a level of equal partnership, leave aside their biased and partial attitudes towards the country … or the alternative will be devastating for Europe,” he said.
“Intelligent politicians who think about the institutional interests of the EU and even think of their own national interests must understand this. If the EU loses Turkey, it will become more introverted,” he added.
The remarks of the deputy prime minister came after the European Parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding motion that advised halting accession talks between the European Union and Turkey.