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Belgian PM says Turkey should be a 'privileged partner' to EU.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has said that Turkey is far from meeting the membership criteria of the EU and suggested that it will be more appropriate to give Turkey a "privileged partner" status rather than full membership.

Speaking on French TV5 Monde channel on Tuesday, Michel expressed his views on the Turkey-EU relationship. He stressed that Belgium has been supporting Turkey on its path to become a EU member, once it has met the EU criteria. He said that in the past Turkey has taken steps to start membership negotiations but today the country is far from meeting EU standards.

Michel said the EU may develop its strategic relations with Turkey without accepting Turkey's membership to the union. Michel indicated that the EU can discuss security and refugee issues with Turkey without tying these with Turkey's EU membership issue.

When asked what he thinks about the revival of EU-Turkey relations as part of finding a solution to the problem of refugees flowing from Turkey to Europe, the Belgian prime minister said he is not naive and understands that Turkey has its own interests, but the EU has its own interests to defend as well.

Last weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to Turkey with strong messages about accelerating Turkey's EU membership process in exchange for Turkey curbing the refugee influx into Europe.

The EU has prepared an action plan that includes fresh funds for Turkey to deal with the refugee issue and establishing reception centers for refugees.

Merkel's visit took place under heavy criticism even from her own party, due to the visit's timing only days before Turkey's Nov. 1 parliamentary election.

Critics said the visit may be interpreted as political support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Only one day after Merkel's visit to Turkey, speaking on a television program, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoy-lu said that Turkey will not turn into a "concentration camp" for Europe.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Oct 28, 2015
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