Cameron: Janus-faced Turkey?

p.txtIt is fascinating to look at what the British Prime Minster has chosen to say about his, Britain’s and the EU’s relations with Turkey during his period of office.

He has long put across a consistent message pro-Turkey – and its EU membership.

January 2008: should Turkey join the EU? “I’m fully in favour it. if Turkey wants to be a Western-facing, secular democracy that’s part of NATO, then they should be allowed to join the EU. It’s simple. …  In my view, as soon as possible.”

In Ankara on the 3rd August 2010: “This is something I feel very strongly, very passionately about… I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels…”. 

He even drew a parallel between Turkey and Britain being blocked: “We know what it’s like to be shut out of the club. But we also know that these things can change.”

“I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy. My view is clear I believe it is just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp, but not be allowed to sit in the tent.”

His message was still very much the same in 2014: “In terms of Turkey’s membership of the EU, I very much support that. That’s a long-standing position of British foreign policy which I support, and we discussed that again in our talks today.

And in 2016, this time in a European Commission press release:

In addition, the European Union – the institutions and its Member States – also committed to increasing political engagement with Turkey, providing Turkey with significant financial support, accelerating the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap and re-energising the accession process with Turkey.

So strong is Cameron’s pro-Turkish position that Erdogan’s AKP are members of the Tory-led pan-European political party, the AECR.

Funny then isn’t it, that when those campaigning for Brexit start talking about the impact on the UK of Turkish EU membership, we suddenly see a different David Cameron?

This David Cameron informs us that Turkish progress to EU simply isn’t going to happen, that Turkey would probably not be ready to join the bloc “until the year 3000” on its current rate of progress.

Mr Cameron told ITV on Sunday that it would be “literally decades before this even had a prospect of happening”.

Britain and every other country in the EU has a veto on another country joining. That’s a fact. This really calls into question their judgment,” he says referring to suggestions that Turkish membership might happen.  Does this suggest Mr Cameron might use a veto on an issue where he has quite consistently said exactly the opposite over many years?

The new position is now presented with equal consistency….

the prospect of Turkey joining the EU was “not remotely on the cards” he tells the House of Commons Liaison Committee during a ‘Question Time’ session about the Brexit referendum.

Liaison Committee member, Frank Field MP, asked Cameron: “You are a long standing supporter of Turkey becoming a full member of the European Union. Do you think their accession will actually speed you towards your goal of tens of thousands or it would be another hindrance?”

The PM replied: “I’ll be absolutely frank with you: I don’t think the accession of Turkey to the European Union is remotely on the cards. I don’t think that will happen for decades.

I think if you look at the facts, the facts are it requires unanimity of all European Union members; the French, for instance, have said they would have a referendum on it.

I would say very clearly to people: if your vote in this referendum is being influenced by consideration about Turkish membership of the EU, don’t think about it, it’s not remotely on the cards, it’s not an issue in this referendum.”

One does wonder what the Turkish diplomatic service is telling Ankara about all this?

Janus-faced indeed!

Margot Parker MEP and Tony Brown EFDDMargot


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