EU enlargement commissioner J. Hahn calls for new Turkey policy

‘Shrugging alone is not a political strategy in the long run,’ Johannes Hahn said.

The EU can no longer “shrug” at Ankara’s “unacceptable” behavior and should change its Turkey strategy, European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published late Monday.

“I believe it is time for the member states to discuss the strategic implications of this behavior,” Hahn said. “Shrugging alone is not a political strategy in the long run.”

Hahn cited two examples as evidence of Turkey’s poor standing.

“The interference of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a national election campaign as well as requests for extradition regarding alleged political opponents are unacceptable,” Hahn said. Ankara “is apparently not willing to revise its course, which brings it farther and farther away from Europe.”

On Friday, Erdoğan called on Turks in Germany not to vote for the ruling Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democratic Party or the Greens, saying they were “enemies” of his country. Politicians in Germany and Austria criticized the president for attempting to interfere in Germany’s September 24 election.

Over the weekend, a Turkish-German writer critical of Erdoğan’s government was arrested by Interpol in Spain on Ankara’s request, before being conditionally released.

Turkey’s application to join the EU has stalled over a number of issues, including concerns over press freedom and the rule of law in the country. In a speech in July, Hahn said the European Commission required progress on freedom of expression and of assembly before it could move forward with Turkey’s application.

The Turkish government accuses Fethüllah Gülen of plotting last year’s failed coup. A crackdown on supporters of Fethüllah Gülen in Turkey has prompted widespread criticism from European governments and Brussels.