Merkel: Ending Turkey's EU bid
Ankara accused German politicians of 'building a Berlin Wall with bricks of populism'
8 September, 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on 5 September that Turkey was fast abandoning the rule of law and vowed to push her EU partners to consider suspending or ending its accession talks at a meeting in October. Merkel spelled out her intentions clearly to the Bundestag lower house of parliament after sharpening her rhetoric on 3 September and saying Turkey should not become an EU member.
“Turkey is moving away from the path of the rule of law at a very fast speed,” Merkel said, adding her government would do everything it could to secure the release of Germans detained in Turkey, who Berlin says are innocent.
Those comments, made in a televised debate with her Social Democratic Party (SPD) election rival Martin Schulz, drew charges of populism from Ankara. Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said discussion over “ending negotiations with Turkey is an attack on the EU’s founding values.” He hit back at German politicians using “careless language” and “trying to give orders to EU institutions they think the EU is the ‘United States of Germany’.” Celik added the attitude of some German politicians was to “build a Berlin Wall with bricks of populism.” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Europe “was turning to the values of the pre-Second World War era ... savagery, fascism, violence, intolerance.”
Relations between Turkey and its largest trading partner turned hostile after Ankara arrested a German-Turkish journalist in February and Germany refused to allow Turkish ministers to campaign for expatriate Turks’ votes before a referendum in April that expanded Erdogan’s powers. Germany moved its troops from the Incirlik air base to Jordan after Turkey refused to allow visits by German lawmakers.
Venting her growing frustration, Merkel said a rethink of Germany’s and the EU’s relations with Turkey was needed. “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,” Merkel said. “I will push for a decisive stand ... But we need to coordinate and work with our partners,” she said, adding that it would damage the EU if Erdogan saw member states embroiled in an argument. “That would dramatically weaken Europe’s position.”