EU needs Turkey to spread its values: Turkish premier

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The EU cannot spread its founding values without Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tuesday.

In a message on Europe Day which marks the presentation of the Schuman Declaration in 1950 — a proposal for the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor to the EU, Yildirim said: “If the EU wants to spread its founding values in order to have a say globally and establish peace in the world, it cannot achieve it without completing the integration, and therefore without Turkey’s membership.”

He added that using xenophobia and Islamophobia for political gains increases concerns for EU's future.

Pointing at the success of Turkey-EU cooperation on the issue of irregular migration, Yildirim said, this was an example of what can be achieved together.

In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

“Turkey hopes to see the same understanding and cooperation for the fight against terrorism,” he said.

A strong EU, of which Turkey is a part, is the warrant of the region’s future, he added.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 while accession talks began in 2005.

However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration in the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.

To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016, the member states said no new chapters would be opened.

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