Turkey leaving Europe with 'giant steps'
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday said Turkey was fully to blame for the breakdown of its EU accession talks and warned Ankara was fast withdrawing from Europe.
And in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned there could be no progress even in trade relations with Turkey while the rule of law was not guaranteed there.
Juncker charged that "Turkey is withdrawing from Europe by giant steps," adding that it was up to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to officially call an end Turkey's efforts to join the EU.
Juncker said he suspected that Erdogan was hoping that Europe would be the one to break off the talks "in order to blame the European Union" for their failure.
But the bloc must avoid "falling into the trap" as the "responsibility is entirely on the Turkish side," he told an annual conference of EU ambassadors in Brussels.
"The question is to know if we must put an end to the negotiations -- which is a purely theoretical question as there are no negotiations."
Relations with Turkey, and especially between Berlin and Ankara, have hit rock bottom in recent months, stoking calls for Ankara's EU accession talks to be suspended.
Turkey began formal membership talks in 2005 after years of foot-dragging by some EU member states such as France who were wary of admitting a large Muslim country.
But progress has been slow and the negotiations came to a virtual halt last year after Erdogan began a massive crackdown following an attempted coup in July, sending ties plunging to a new low.