German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that she had always been against Turkey’s EU membership, and that Turkey’s help during the refugee crisis did not change her opinion.
"I have always been against EU membership, President (Tayyip) Erdogan knows this, and I still am," Merkel told German public broadcaster ARD. The German leader has always been a strong opponent of the Middle Eastern nation joining the EU. She is rather in favor of Turkey enjoying a "privileged partnership."
Merkel stopped being too outspoken about her opposition against Ankara’s full-fledged EU membership in recent years, Reuters reported. She rather backed membership talks between Turkey and the EU with no pre-determined outcome.
Meanwhile, Turkey has been offered new incentives from the EU to solve the migrant crisis. The incentives include easing visa restrictions and more financial aid. According to the European Commission, the help is going to "strengthen its capacity to combat migrant smuggling" off Turkey's coast, the BBC reported.
Turkey, on the other hand, is yet to accept the incentive as some of the demands made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are still not addressed. Turkey argued that the involvement of Iran and Russia in the Syrian crisis may prompt millions more migrants to leave the country.
According to Turkey’s estimates, three million migrants may move to Europe, said European Council President Donald Tusk. However, the International Organization for Migration considered Tusk's comments as "speculative" as the IOM does not have any report of more migrants leaving Syria.
Since Europe is partnering with Turkey again, Ankara’s bid for an EU membership is stronger now. Meanwhile, European officials have been critical of Erdogan authoritarian policies and stalled Turkey’s bid for years.