State Minister and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış told reporters on Wednesday after his meeting with visiting Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere in his office in İstanbul that it is “an insult to offer Turkey something like privileged partnership at this point” of EU membership talks and that Turkey “will never accept this in any way.”
“Privileged partnership,” a formula that falls short of full European Union membership for Turkey and rejected by Ankara, was first introduced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel back in 2004.
Noting that there are EU candidate countries that are negotiating with the 27-nation bloc along with member countries, Bağış said there is no alternative to EU membership. Stating that Turkey had applied for EU membership in 1959 and has been negotiating since 2004, Bağış said Turkey was successful in opening 13 chapters and struggling to open other negotiation chapters out of a total of 33. “If EU regulations change, different membership alternatives are developed and several membership countries decide to alter their membership status, then this offer could be made to Turkey. However, it is insulting to offer Turkey something like privileged partnership at this point. No country suggests this to Turkey in official platforms. In the past year, no leader used this phrase during discussions on Turkey. Turkey-EU integration is of benefit to both sides,” Bağış said.
Saying that Belgium considers Turkey a strategic EU partner, Vanackere also confirmed that there is no such thing as “privileged partnership” within the EU acquis. Explaining that countries that start negotiations aim for full membership and that membership talks are open-ended, the Belgian foreign minister said the goal is membership. “If a candidate country lives up to its obligations, it can become a member of the EU. We also support this,” he added.