Tuesday

21st May 2019

Germany to delay Turkey talks until October

  • Westerwelle (l) with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Berlin has proposed postponing the restart of Turkey's EU entry talks until after German elections in September.

Its foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, floated the idea at a meeting with his EU peers in Luxembourg on Monday (23 June).

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Under the German proposal, EU countries would this week give "political assent" to resume the process.

But they would wait until the European Commission in October publishes a "progress report" on Turkey's EU credentials before going ahead.

The talks were due to restart at an intergovernmental conference (IGC) on Wednesday - a big step following a three-year standstill.

But Germany and the Netherlands last week raised objections due to Turkey's recent crackdown on anti-government protests.

The October date falls after German elections in September.

Germany and Turkey over the weekend traded harsh words after Turkey's EU affairs minister, Egemen Bagis, accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of blocking the talks to curry favour with right-wing voters.

Some EU countries share Bagis' point of view.

"As usual, domestic politics is playing a role in multilateral politics," one EU diplomatic contact said.

But Germany says the postponement has nothing to do with its vote.

"I would deny that there is any link," a German diplomat told this website on Monday.

"You can't deny a certain influence of the events of the last two weeks [Turkey's crackdown] on the German position. However this develops, the events will be reflected in the commission's progress report. That's why we think it might be an acceptable compromise to go this way," he added.

Most EU countries want to go ahead with the accession talks more quickly.

But for its part, Austria on Monday joined the Dutch-German camp.

An EU diplomatic source said Vienna would like to see "a cooling off period" because it might "send the wrong political signal" if the EU went ahead amid the Turkish crackdown.

The German idea is likely to be discussed by EU ambassadors in Luxembourg on Monday evening.

Foreign ministers might also try to get a deal in the margins of a "general affairs" meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

In protocol terms, Turkey needs at least 24 hours' notice if the IGC is to happen.

"I don't hold out much hope for an agreement on Tuesday. But even if there is one, I don't think Wednesday's meeting can take place," an EU official noted.

No EU-Turkey talks until October

The restart of EU-Turkey accession talks has been postponed until at least October following a German request.

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