Austria's foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, has threatened to oppose any attempts by Turkey to join the European Union. Kurz claimed he will use his position in the EU foreign ministers' council to vote against further negotiation chapters with Turkey. His announcement was made Sunday, following a recommendation by Chancellor Christian Kern to completely terminate said negotiations. Several other Austrian government members have echoed their sentiments, citing the recent coup, the respective purges, and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powerful rule. While recent events have tensed Turkey's relationship with the EU, not all nations are ready to give up negotiations just yet.
Turkey has been in talks for EU accession since 2005, with only minimal progress to show for it. In order to join the EU, Turkey has to adjust its policy areas to the standards of the trade bloc. Of the 35 policy chapters considered so far, only one has been confirmed. Further EU negotiations are meant to open up more policy areas for discussion and talk about potential accession. However, due to economic instability and probably democratic violations, Kurz claims that Turkey has not met the criteria for such discourse. In addition, controversy sparked over Erdogan's proposition to reinstate the death penalty; considering recent events, many are comparing Erdogan's rule to that of a "dictatorship." Since a unanimous agreement in the foreign ministers' council is needed to further accession talks, Kurz stated he will be a dissenting vote, which may bring negotiations to a complete halt.
In one sense, Turkey has a hand to play in these negotiations. It concerns a migration deal between Ankar and Brussels, approved by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The deal states that Ankar should serve as a hub for illegal migrants in order to halt the excessive flow into Western Europe. In turn, Turkey receives financial aid, visa-free travel throughout the EU, and an advantage in membership negotiations. So far, the country has ostensibly lived up to its end of the deal. Erdogan claims that Turkey has not been given proper visa liberalization from the EU, and has previously threatened to pull out of the deal. Kurz, who is opposed to the migration deal, remains adamant, stating that recent events nullify Turkey's requests for visa policy and EU accession. If the deal is scrapped, numbers of migrants in Ankar will spill over to the rest of the Europe, causing the region to worry. Thus, other EU nations are more reluctant than Austria in cutting off ties with Turkey.
Opposition to Turkey has its roots in political and human rights concerns. However, if Kurz sticks to his plan to veto Turkey membership, it could cause a great deal of tension between Turkey, Austria, and the rest of the EU. The future of Turkey's role in the EU lies weakly in the balance.