Turkish FM calls on EU to continue enlargement policy

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Turkish Foreign Minister on Wednesday issued a message marking the Europe Day and called on the European Union to continue its enlargement policy.

"…Enlargement has been the EU's single most successful policy for spreading its founding values. It is vital that the EU continues this policy in the period ahead," Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a statement.

Europe Day marks the presentation of the Schuman Declaration on May 9, 1950 — a proposal for the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community.

Underscoring that the Schuman Declaration marked its 68 years, Cavusoglu said: "Turkey is a European country geographically and historically, and has contributed to the security, stability and prosperity of the continent. Our country, which is also institutionally part of Europe, continues to make the necessary efforts towards full membership to the EU."

Cavusoglu stressed that the "EU is drifting away from its own founding values" and said "extremist trends such as discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia…causes disappointment and concerns in the wider Europe which shares common values with the EU."

He urged the EU to distance itself from "discrimination and populism" and return "to the unifying and inclusive approach that lies at the heart of the Union."

"Turkey, as a candidate country, is hoping that the EU overcomes the challenges it is faced with. In this context, Turkey is open to all ideas of sincere and meaningful cooperation with the EU in line with our common interests," he added.

Separately, Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik in a written statement on Wednesday stressed the importance of Schuman Declaration and said: "…[the EU] has been a unique example of inspiration to not only the citizens of the Union but also to the international community via its common policies that influence all aspects of social life."

Turkey's membership

Celik also drew attention toward the crises within the Union and said: "Though it is currently experiencing a trauma, the EU will be protected as long as it maintains its strong and deeply rooted values and principles."

He urged the EU to put aside its prejudices, fears and return to its core values.

"The EU must well understand that the path for it to overcome crisis passes from Turkey's membership," he added.

He urged the EU to be objective, fair and have willingness to build a joint future in Turkey's path to full membership.

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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