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Sun Aug 7, 2016, 10:25 AM

Austria threatens to block acceleration of Turkish EU talks

Source: Reuters

Austria's foreign minister has threatened to block the expansion of negotiations with Turkey on its accession to the European Union, which could scupper a landmark migration deal between Brussels and Ankara.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz's comments, published on Sunday, risk exacerbating a row between Austria and Turkey that flared last week when Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested ending Turkey's EU membership talks altogether because of the country's democratic and economic deficits.

Talks on Turkish accession have made only slow progress since they began in 2005, with just one "chapter" concluded of 35 such policy areas where Turkey must adopt and implement EU rules.

"I have a seat and a vote in the (EU) foreign ministers' council. There the question is whether new negotiation chapters will be opened with Turkey, and I am against it," Kurz said in an interview with Austrian daily Kurier, threatening to block the unanimous agreement required.

The Turkish government's crackdown on followers of a U.S.-based cleric whom it blames for last month's failed coup has strained relations with the 28-nation bloc, which depends on Ankara to restrict the westward flow of migrants.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-eu-austria-idUSKCN10I0CO

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