Sunday

28th Nov 2021

Germany ready to re-start EU-Turkey talks

  • Merkel in Kahramanmaras - the German troops hear what is going in Syria by intercepting radio signals (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed France on re-starting EU accession talks with Turkey.

Speaking in a regular, weekly podcast on Saturday (23 February), before going on a two-day visit to Turkey on Sunday, she said: "I think a long negotiating path lies ahead of us. Although I am sceptical, I agreed with the continuation of membership discussions. We are engaging in these in an open-ended manner … In recent times, negotiations stalled somewhat and I am in favour of opening a new chapter in order to move forward."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Turkey began EU entry talks in 2005.

But the process stopped in 2010, after France and Cyprus - which is locked in a 40-year-old frozen conflict over the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island - vetoed 11 out of the 35 so-called negotiating chapters.

The past few years have seen the European Commission accuse Turkey of trampling on human rights and Germany speak of a "privileged partnership" instead of EU accession.

They have also seen Turkish politicians accuse the EU of Islamophobia and threaten to join Asian clubs, such as the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, instead.

The debate has seen Turkish support for EU entry fall from over 70 percent to around 30 percent.

But Merkel's remarks come in an improving climate in relations.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius earlier this month said he is ready to unblock talks on the regional aid chapter.

Cyprus on Sunday also elected a new President, Nicos Anastasiades, who, back in 2004, showed willingness to come to terms with Turkey by backing a UN peace plan.

Meanwhile, Germany's EU commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, caused a stir last week by telling a think-tank in Berlin the EU will one day "crawl to Ankara on its knees to beg the Turks" to join.

His sentiment was shared by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, using more diplomatic words.

"If we aren't careful, the day will come when Europe's interest in Turkey is greater than Turkey's interest in Europe," he said in Germany's Passauer Neue Nachrichten newspaper on Saturday.

Merkel began her trip on Sunday by visiting German soldiers at a Nato anti-missile defence base in Kahramanmaras, 100km from the Turkish-Syrian border.

She is due to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.

The Nato unit went to Turkey after Syrian shells hit Turkish villages in a region which has become a de facto base for the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

EU relations aside, Merkel on Sunday told Turkey that, as a Nato ally, "it is important to show people living on the Turkish side that we are ready to protect them and to give a clear signal to those who try to export the Syrian conflict to Nato territory that we won't let that happen."

She noted some people feel "bewildered" that Nato has not intervened inside Syria.

But she said that even small-scale intervention, such as giving weapons to the FSA, could "intensify ... bloodshed."

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us