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Iran Press TV

Turkey EU membership far off: European Commission chief

Iran Press TV

Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:00AM

The head of the European Commission (EC) urges Turkey to stop comparing EU leaders to "Nazis," saying Ankara's behavior has cast chances of its EU membership far-off.

Jean-Claude Juncker made the remarks during the State of the European Union address to the members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France.

He said Turkey has for some time been "moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds."

He pleaded with the country to free European journalists and criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government in Ankara for calling EU leaders "fascists and Nazis."

"Sometimes I get the feeling Turkey is intentionally placing these roadblocks so that it can blame Europe for any breakdown in accession talks," he said.

"As for us, we will always keep our hands stretched out towards the great Turkish people and those who are ready to work with us on the basis of our values," he added.

There are 12 German political prisoners in Turkey, including Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel, the Istanbul correspondent for the Die Welt newspaper, who has spent more than 200 days in custody, and is to go on trial on "terror" charges.

The country has also put a number of French journalists behind bars, including a student named Loup Bureau.

"I appeal to the powers that be in Turkey, let our journalists go," Juncker said.

On occasions, the Turkish head of state has also called the entire Europe "fascist and cruel" and claimed that Germany is "still a Nazi country."

Juncker said Ankara's attitude "rules out EU membership for Turkey in the foreseeable future."

Turkey has been attempting to become part of the EU for decades. The process has been mired in problems, and only 16 of the 35 chapters in the accession procedure have been opened for Ankara so far.

Membership prospects took a direct hit after the July 2016 coup attempt against Ankara, following which the government launched a heavy-handed crackdown on those suspected of having links with coup plotters.

Over 50,000 people have so far been jailed pending trial, while nearly 150,000 individuals have also been fired or suspended from jobs in the public and private sectors in the purge.

Most recently, Turkish authorities have issued detention warrants for 79 former school employees over alleged links to the coup.

They were suspected of using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app which the government says was used by the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of orchestrating the putsch. Gulen denies the claim.

The EU has expressed concerns over the crackdown on suspected dissidents, saying the coup attempt is being used as a pretext by the Turkish government to quash opposition across the nation.

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