EU Council – Turkish Membership

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): If we are giving impetus to association agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, where does that leave Turkey? What assessment has the Prime Minister made of the reports that Germany and France may be revising their attitude to Turkish membership of or association with the European Union? Surely Turkey should be a greater priority, given its crucial role as a gateway between Europe and Asia and between the Christian and Muslim worlds.

The Prime Minister: We should take the two cases separately. We are in accession negotiations with Turkey and another chapter has just opened in relation to its membership of the EU, which I support. Ukraine and the other Eastern Partnership countries are a different matter. They are obviously under an enormous amount of pressure to join a trade area dominated by Russia. We want to say to those countries that if they want to have a relationship with Europe and to trade with it, they can. This is an opportunity to say to countries such as Ukraine that they must continue to make progress with governance and justice if they want to have that relationship. That is an important part of the EU’s relationship with those eastern countries. I therefore think that the two cases are slightly different.