Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said that he would start a discussion among European heads of government to quit talks with Turkey about joining the European Union because of the country’s democratic and economic deficits.
European leaders have voiced concern over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on suspected dissidents after a failed coup attempt month, identifying his idea of reintroducing the death penalty in Turkey as a red line barring accession to the EU.
Kern sharpened the critical rhetoric in an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF.
“We are all well advised to now say we’re pressing the reset button,” he said, calling accession talks a “diplomatic fiction”.
“We know that the democratic standards are clearly not sufficient to justify (Turkey’s) accession … The economic question is at least just as significant because the Turkish economy is too far from the European average.”
When asked whether Austria will table a proposal to stop accession talks at a European council meeting on Sept. 16, Kern said Austria would “start a discussion about this. We will ask for an alternative concept.”
Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister said on Thursday that comments by Austria’s chancellor, suggesting talks with Turkey on joining the European Union should be ended, came disturbingly close to the rhetoric of the far right.
“It’s disturbing that his statements are similar to those of the far right… Criticism is surely a democratic right but there has to be a difference between criticising Turkey and being against Turkey,” Omer Celik told reporters in Ankara.
Meanwhile, Sweden said that for the time being it will not deport Turkish asylum seekers linked to the opposition following last month’s attempted coup.
The decision concerns people who have credible links to the failed coup and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan holds responsible, as well as members of the opposition.
Sweden has received 172 applications for asylum from Turkey since January.