BRUSSELS (Dispatches) – Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that Turkey had not made progress on key conditions to allow it to become a member of the European Union.
"As regards Turkey, I have not seen this progress in the last years. On the contrary ... Turkey needs to show that it wants to be closer to European values, to European rules, the rule of law, liberty and fundamental values,” she told a news conference, at which she announced her future team of commissioners.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the European Union to demonstrate sincerity about his country’s accession to the 28-member politico-economic bloc.
"It needs to be clear whether or not the EU will accept Turkey,” Erdogan said last year during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban in Budapest.
"Turkey has been stalled since 1963. No EU member state has been treated in such a way,” he added.
Erdogan suggested that he could take Turkey to a referendum over its EU membership bid.
"If the European Union continues wasting Turkey’s time in its accession to the union, then the country could hold a referendum over its membership bid. It is better to see this process faster so that Turkey can determine its way,” the Turkish president said at an international forum in Istanbul on October 4.
Ankara slammed the European Union as "hypocritical" and "prejudiced" after the bloc said Ankara was moving further away from Europe.
The EU has often criticized the crackdown and attacks on freedom of speech in the wake of the botched putsch, in which tens of thousands of people, including journalists, have been arrested.
Ankara, in return, has accused Brussels of being unsupportive of the multiple terror threats it faces.
Turkey has also rejected any offer of partnership with the EU that falls short of full membership, warning that the current situation gave Turkey no reason to maintain its refugee deal with the bloc.
The EU and Turkey struck a deal worth billions of euros in March 2016, under which Turkey would take back migrants in exchange for visa liberalization. It has yet to take effect for Turkish nationals.