German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday that Turkey is backsliding on the rule of law and vowed to urge other EU member countries to think about putting an end or suspending Turkish accession talks at a meeting in October, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Following the recent detention of two German nationals in Turkey, Merkel made remarks opposing Turkey’s EU membership on Sunday in a television debate with Martin Schulz, her Social Democratic rival in elections later this month, and signaled rethinking relations with Turkey.
“Turkey is moving away from the path of the rule of law at a very fast speed. … We will also — and I will suggest this takes place at the EU meeting in October — discuss future relations with Turkey, including the question of suspending or ending talks on accession. … I will push for a decisive stand. But we need to coordinate and work with our partners,” Merkel said.
Earlier, Germany had signaled that there would be no extension of Turkey’s participation in a customs union with the European Union amid issues of democracy in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said Turkey wants to become a member of the EU following remarks from German leaders who voiced their opposition to Turkey’s EU membership. Çavuşoğlu, who spoke on Monday during a panel discussion in Slovenia, said, “We want to become a European Union member, this is still our strategy and our choice.”
Responding to recent remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) leader Martin Schulz on Sunday night saying that Turkey should not join the EU, Çavuşoğlu said they should focus on their domestic issues.
“There is a transformation. Unfortunately, the center parties in EU member countries are using the same racist language and discourse. The elections in Germany are held in Germany, not in Turkey or Hungary. It is better if they focus on their own domestic problems.”
Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik said on Monday that any talk of ending his country’s negotiations for EU accession amounts to an “attack on Europe’s founding principles.”
During a television debate with Schulz, her Social Democratic rival in elections later this month, Merkel said, “The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the EU.” Schulz said he would stop Turkey’s bid to join the EU if he were to be elected chancellor. Merkel also added that she would speak with her EU counterparts to see if the EU can end accession talks with Turkey.
In the run-up to the elections in Germany, the opposition parties urged Merkel to issue an official travel warning for Turkey. Most recently, the German foreign minister said Germans could be arrested in Turkey even during a vacation on the grounds that the owner of the hotel in which they are staying is accused of ties to the Gülen movement.
Turkey has been undertaking a massive purge against real and perceived supporters of the Gülen movement.
Against such a backdrop, Merkel indicated a change of tone with Turkey during a business event in the southern city of Nuremberg, noting that Germany had already fundamentally revamped its relations with Ankara. “Given the latest events, perhaps it is necessary to rethink them ever further,” she said.
Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long been accusing Germany of harboring terrorists, while the pro-Erdoğan media claim that Germany is working systematically to undermine the development of Turkey. (SCF with turkishminute.com)