By Yusuf Hatip, Sena Guler
Ankara on Sunday criticized a call by Austria’s new government for a halt to Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, saying it shows a discriminatory attitude that ignores Turkey’s rights.
“This unfortunate and short-sighted statement in Austria’s new government program unfortunately confirms our concerns about a political movement based on discrimination,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.
The Austrian statement is an unfriendly and dishonest attempt to avoid obligations arising out of agreements between the EU and Turkey, the ministry added, also blasting Austria saying it would seek allies to push ending Turkey’s accession talks.
This move “ignoring our country’s legitimate rights” also “flouts political and diplomatic morals,” said the ministry.
Austria’s move “tests the boundaries of Turkey’s friendship” and, if put into practice, will lead to a decisive response, the ministry said.
Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik also criticized Austria’s stance.
“The new Austrian Government formed by central right (?) and far right started attacking fundamental democratic values without delay,” he wrote in English on Twitter.
Stating that the coalition government’s program intends to end Turkey’s accession negotiations and is seeking allies towards this end, he said:
“This ‘seeking for allies’ reminds us of very bad memories from history. With this coalition, the far right comes to power in the EU [for the] first time ever. They even announce that they will be working to drag the EU to the fate of the Weimar Republic,” the shaky republic in Germany between the world wars.
He added that despite this program, Johannes Hahn, the Austrian-born EU commissioner for enlargement, has expressed his happiness at having a “pro-European orientation”
“Which pro-European orientation?” asked Celik.
Taking such an attitude while ignoring the racist Austrian government program shows “weakness,” said Celik.
“These approaches clearly show the effort to downgrade EU values to mere formalities and to exploit them as elements of power game in Europe,” he said.
He also warned the bloc of rising threats from within the EU: “For many years, threats to the EU have been expected from out of the EU. However, movements that are threatening EU values are rising [from] within the EU. Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and anti-migrant parties are on the rise. Now this movement is in power in Austria.”
Rather than seeking allies to end Turkey’s EU negotiations, Austria should find allies to establish strong ties with Turkey, wrote Celik.
On Friday Austria’s center-right OVP (People's Party) reached a deal with the far-right FPO (Freedom Party) to form a coalition government, after eight weeks of intense negotiations. On Saturday they pledged a tougher approach to migration and stronger domestic security measures.