Turkey determined to maintain EU accession process, government says

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech during his meeting with provincial governors at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, October 12, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS (Reuters)

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey is determined to press on with its efforts to join the European Union despite tensions with the bloc, the government said on Sunday ahead of an EU summit which will discuss the frayed relations between Brussels and Ankara. The EU, particularly heavyweight member Germany, has become increasingly critical of Turkey since President Tayyip Erdogan launched a crackdown on critics, including journalists and academics after the July 2016 failed coup. Erdogan accused Berlin of "Nazi-like" tactics in March when it prevented Turkish ministers speaking at expatriate rallies in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an election debate in September that it was clear Turkey should not join the EU and entry talks should end, despite it being a NATO ally. "Is there another country that has waited at the EU's doorstep since 1963? There is not," Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency. "We are determined to continue this process despite all the setbacks. We, as Turkey, have no intention of pulling back," he said. Turkey's 12-year-long accession talks have ground to a halt since Ankara's crackdown after the failed coup, in which more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the military, private and public sectors. EU leaders will meet on Oct. 19 to discuss deteriorating ties between the bloc and Turkey in a two-day summit. However, Merkel was quoted as saying the summit will not make a conclusive decision on Ankara's accession bid. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans and Richard Balmforth)