Turkey can still join EU: Mogherini

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini speaks during a press conference after their meeting at the Ankara Palace on Dec. 8. (© AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Turkey can still join the EU if it meets the necessary conditions, European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters following an EU foreign ministers meeting in Malta, Mogherini said “The accession process continues, it is not suspended, not ended (although) we are currently not working on any new chapters.”

“The criteria are very clear, well known and if Turkey is interested in joining, as [Turkey’s] foreign minister told us today, … it knows very well what that implies, especially in the field of human rights, rule of law, democracy and freedoms,” she said.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had earlier said his country was “strictly” against breaking off accession talks.

“In NATO, we did not even exclude Turkey even during the times of military dictatorship (there). Why should we now have an interest in pushing it in the direction of Russia?” he said.

However Austria repeated calls for talks to be ended, with it’s foreign minister branding them “a fiction” and urging the EU to make a “final decision.”

Mogherini also said that the EU respected the results of Turkey’s recent constitutional referendum, the first statement of its kind by a European leader since the election.