Turkish membership in the EU would contribute greatly to both sides, the U.K.’s ambassador to Ankara said on Friday.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Dominick Chilcott said: “Turkey’s accession process and the membership process is stalled at the moment, it’s not going anywhere and for now it’s hard to be optimistic.”
However, evaluating Ankara’s decades-long negotiations with the 28-member bloc, Chilcott said conditions could change rapidly at any time.
He stressed that the current lack of progress had nothing to do with Turkey’s culture, size or geographical position.
“In principle, there is no reason why Turkey should not become a member state. It would be a very successful state of the EU, make a big contribution and benefit hugely from EU membership,” he said.
Chilcott pointed out that Turkey was an indispensable and powerful ally of the EU but emphasized that both sides needed to make certain changes for the current partnerships to continue.
“With 3.6 million Syrian refugees and half a million refugees from other countries Turkey carries a huge burden,” said Chilcott.
“Everybody in the international community should be grateful for all the efforts Turkey makes,” he said.
Chilcott underlined that the EU’s current contributions were only a “small part of the cost Turkey already bears.”
“It’s for the politicians to discuss among themselves what the right amount is, it was the amount agreed between President Erdoğan’s government and the European Union,” Chilcott said.
“I am sure more help would be much appreciated here in Turkey,” Chilcott added.
In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.
Turkey has long complained of the EU being slow to deliver the promised funds for refugees and failing to uphold its end of the deal concerning visa-free travel.