Georgics Epitidios, of the far-right Golden Dawn party, dissected the idea and delivered a damning assessment of Turkey – one of six countries recognised as a candidate for EU membership.
Turkey is critical to the handling of the migrant crisis and the EU relies upon Ankara to enforce a deal which sees Turkey take back migrants who cross into Greece and either fail to apply for asylum or have their claims rejected.
Addressing MEPs, he dismissed the idea to expand existing trade agreements to encompass sectors such as agriculture, services, public services and regulatory convergence as “wishful thinking”.
“The estimation that modernising the customs union with Turkey would bring Turkey closer to us or that it could possibly serve as a European lever to pressure Turkey is wishful thinking rather than a pragmatic remedy for the situation,” he said.
“We know very well that Turkey doesn’t adhere to the agreements it enters into and it always acts in accordance with its own best interests without even hesitating to blackmail the EU.”
Georgics Epitidios ripped into Turkey over a proposed update to its customs union deal
We know very well that Turkey doesn’t adhere to the agreements it enters into and it always acts in accordance with its own best interests
Mr Epitidios said the move would only make Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government “more provocative” and “emboldened”.
He said: “How can it be, while Turkey doesn’t recognise the Republic of Cyprus, doesn’t allow Cypriot ships and aircraft to access Turkish ports and airports, that we are now talking here about upgrading trade relations with Turkey?
“Besides, this is not an emergency. Moreover, offering gifts to Turkey will make it become neither conciliatory nor cooperative. On the contrary, it will make it more provocative and emboldened.”
European officials hope that by appeasing Turkish officials, it will halt President Erdoğan’s threats of dumping the refugee deal agreed last year which sees migrants trying to enter the EU return to Turkey.
EUROSCEPTICISM: These are the most eurosceptic countries Mon, January 16, 2017
EUROSCEPTICISM, meaning criticism of the European Union (EU). Rising disenchantment with the dealings of EU is not just confined to the UK.
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The deal has been seen as a move to appease Turkey over a refugee deal made last year
The EU representative of the Turkish Industry and Business Association Bahadir Kaleagasi told Politico the strengthening of economic ties had a “clear political and strategic dimension”.
Kaleagasi added that although 95 per cent of Turkey’s exports are already shipped to the European Union – most of which are industrial goods which are already covered by tariff-free trade under the current customs union – he claimed there are huge economic strides that can be taken by the Islamic republic.
He told Politico: “What we hope for is legislative alignment. Turkey wants good EU standards that will help social progress, make our country more attractive for investment and boost our international export abilities.
“This can also help to solve some of our internal problems.”
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