Saturday

24th Feb 2018

Turkey accuses Merkel of racism

  • EU politicians "should rather focus on their own internal issues," Turkey's Cavusoglu said (Photo: Bled Strategic Forum)

The Turkish government has accused the German chancellor of being "racist" after she called for an end to Turkey's EU accession negotiations.

Mainstream parties "are using the same rhetoric as racist parties" in order to win back voters they lost to populist parties, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday (4 September).

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On Sunday, in a TV debate with her opponent Martin Schulz ahead of the 24 September elections, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that she would speak to other EU leaders to "end" accession talks.

"The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the EU," she said.

Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, agreed that "we should not allow in a country that is against EU values."

Turkey's Cavusoglu noted that "Turkey and Hungary were discussed more than internal issues" during the debate.

"They should rather focus on their own internal issues," he said.

Cavusoglu, who spoke at the Bled Strategic Forum, an event in Slovenia, said EU accession "is still a strategic goal for Turkey".

"Turkey has no problem to open any chapter and to discuss and negotiate any technical issue," he added, denouncing "political obstacles" to the process.

He said that "nothing has changed in Turkey", despite EU concerns about Turkey's crackdown on opponents of Turkish president Recep Tayip Erdogan after the failed coup in July 2016.

Cavusoglu said "the EU didn't support democracy in Turkey" in its response to the coup and this was why the "support of Turkish people for EU membership has declined".

Earlier on Monday, a spokesman for Erdogan said "Germany and Europe's attacks" were "ignoring necessary and pressing problems".

"We hope the problematic atmosphere that made Turkish-German relations the victim of this narrow political horizon will end," he added.

'Dialogue continues'

The European Commission reacted cautiously to Merkel's remarks.

"Turkey is a candidate country for the moment," the EU high representative Federica Mogherini said, also in Bled, Slovenia.

"Dialogue continues, work on negotiations continues," she said.

"On the future, I would suggest that we look beyond what is said in electoral campaigns, both in Turkey and in the European Union," she added, saying that the EU must work with Turkey, "a key player in a region that is strategically important for us."

"Working together is a must when you are neighbours," she said.

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said EU support for Turkey was "not unlimited and not unconditional", but he added that the EU should "reflect on these things calmly".

"This a decision for member states to take," he said.

He reminded press that Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was also critical of Turkey last week.

In a speech to EU ambassadors in Brussels Juncker said: "'Turkey is taking giant strides away from Europe" and that Erdogan was making accession "impossible".

EU and Turkey fail to defuse tensions

A "high level political dialogue" ended with tense exchanges at a press conference over the human rights situation in Turkey.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement

After the European Commission presented its Western Balkans strategy last week, with a view of possibly integrating the region by 2025, some EU ministers were less enthusiastic after their first discussion of the new policy.

Rights watchdog to visit Turkey over rule of law

The Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, is heading to Ankara next week. The trip follows new plans by Ankara to meet EU demands for reforms in areas like anti-terror legislation.

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