Both the European Union and Turkey know that accession talks “will lead to nothing,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told German daily Die Welt on Saturday, adding that he didn’t “see” Turkey joining the bloc in the next 30 years.
“For a long time, Austria has been of the opinion that the already-frozen accession talks must also be formally terminated in full,” Schallenberg said, pointing to the latest EU Commission progress report on Turkey which showed significant decline in compliance with the Copenhagen criteria.
Instead of accession talks, the EU should “now start to work on a tailor-made partnership to serve the interests of both sides,” the minister said.
Schallenberg also spoke about Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey, Cyprus and Greece have been locked in months-long tensions over rights to natural resources and territorial waters.
The only way to resolve issues over natural gas and maritime borders is by negotiations or the International Court of Justice, Schallenberg said, “not by military means. We must not show any naivety or let ourselves be deceived by (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s) tricks.”
The minister said there was “no doubt” about Austria’s support for Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, adding: “On the other hand, we should do everything we can to bring about negotiations.”
Speaking on the recent attacks in the Austrian capital, Schallenberg called for better communication and connection between Europe and its international partners in identifying and monitoring potential threats. “Terrorists are extremely well connected, we must be even better connected,” he said.
Political Islam has “no place in Europe,” Schallenberg said, however, the conflict is not “between people of different religions or origins. It is a struggle between people who believe in peace, democracy and the rights and dignity of every human being, and those few who do not.”
Austrian authorities closed down a mosque and an Islamic association that had contributed to the radicalisation of the man who killed four people in Vienna on Monday, Integration Minister Susanne Raab told reporters on Friday.
According to Turkish news website Duvar, one preacher in the now-shuttered mosque had been involved with a German-speaking ISIS group in Syria, and was later killed in the war-torn country in a drone strike. The Vienna attacker, identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, had travelled to Turkey to cross into Syria, but was arrested by Turkish authorities and returned to Austria before he could do so.