Jean Asselborn: Unacceptable for Turkey to threaten another NATO member

Jean Asselborn

In an interview with AMNA Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, said it was unacceptable for Turkey to threaten a fellow member state.

Questioned about Turkey's behaviour and whether this was compatible with its status as a NATO member and EU candidate-state, especially against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, Asselborn noted that EU accession talks with Turkey were at a standstill and that the country had regressed in issues related to the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This, he added, created a huge gap between Turkey's ambition to join the EU and a foreign policy that was in many places contrary to the EU's priorities.

Regarding NATO, he said that it was "unacceptable for one member of the alliance to threaten another" but also noted that NATO was more united than ever in the face of Russia's war in Ukraine and expected Turkey to ratify the NATO accession of Sweden and Finland as soon as possible in 2023.

On the war in Ukraine, Luxembourg's foreign minister said the intensity of battles might lessen as winter deepens but not the hardship of the Ukrainian people, given that Russia has systematically targeted non-military and energy infrastructure in the country, which he emphasised was a "crime that we strongly condemn".

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine could get worse, he added, and for this reason the EU was accelerating the provision of humanitarian aid. Regarding a possible end to the hostilities, he said this was hard to predict but there was at present no sign of any willingness on Russia's part to engage in talks with Ukraine in good faith.

He expressed hope that new sanctions will increase the pressure on Russia to end its war of aggression.

Asselborn went on to dismiss the idea of providing security guarantees for Russia, saying that Russia had at no time been attacked by any European state, and that on the contrary, the countries that needed security guarantees were those that had been directly or indirectly attacked by Russia in the last 15 years, such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

On the violation of the embargo against Russia by Turkey, he said its failure to fully align with the sanctions against Russia raised a series of questions for a country that wishes to join the EU.

Regarding the Western Balkans, Asselborn agreed that the war in Ukraine has given new impetus to EU enlargement, with great progress made in 2022, such as the start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, as well as the granting of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova.

At the same time, he clarified that the pace of EU accession was determined by the candidate countries themselves and their ability and the political will to carry out the necessary reforms in order to align with the European acquis, values and policies. Luxembourg will continue to provide support, he added, but it was up to the countries to act with determination, stressing that the terms and conditions will not be relaxed. On the contrary, he added, the EU must be more demanding in areas such as the rule of law, independence of justice, corruption and organised crime.

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