Monday

25th Jul 2016

Merkel warns Turkey on 'very, very serious situation'

German chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a stark warning to Turkey saying there will be no "business as usual" in Ankara's EU membership talks if it continues to be defiant on the Cyprus issue.

In an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Monday (6 November), Ms Merkel said that if Ankara continues to refuse to open its ports and airports to trade from Cyprus – as agreed with the EU in the so-called Ankara protocol – it risks a crisis in its accession negotiations with Brussels.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The Bosphorus seen from space: the waterway is all that divides Turkey from mainland Europe, but the political gap is widening (Photo: wikipedia)

"We need the implementation of the Ankara protocol on the freedom of movement of goods also with Cyprus. Otherwise, a very, very serious situation arises regarding the continuation of the accession talks," the chancellor said.

"I appeal to Turkey that it does everything in order not to end up in such a situation and in order not to lead the European Union into such a situation," she added.

The comments come two days before the release of a key European Commission report on Wednesday which could recommend a partial freeze of the membership talks – a move which Ms Merkel indicated she would support if Turkey continues to ignore the EU's demands.

"In that case the EU cannot just continue like that. Turkey needs to know: a simple ‘business as usual' is no option if there is no movement in the area of the Ankara protocol."

The Wednesday report is also set to criticise curbs on free speech - especially article 301 of the Turkish penal code against "insulting Turkishness" - and human rights standards in relation to prisoners, ethnic and religious minorities, women and trade unions, the BBC says.

Meeting cancelled

The German chancellor's strong words follow last week's cancellation of a last-ditch meeting which was aimed at forging a breakthrough between Turkey and Cyprus before Wednesday's commission report.

The Finnish EU presidency called off the meeting, due to start on Sunday, following Turkey's anger that Greece would not be attending the talks.

The leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Mehmet Ali Talat, also criticised Helsinki for not involving the UN, amid Finnish plans for a trade-off solution which would see an ending of the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot North of the island in return for Turkey implementing the Ankara protocol.

Pandora's box

The Finnish-proposed link between the Ankara protocol and the lifting of the isolation of Turkish Cypriots has opened a Pandora's box of demands by both sides of the Mediterranean island, divided since 1974 along a UN-monitored line.

Now that the issue is likely to remain unsolved ahead of the commission report on Wednesday, critical passages in the report are likely to fuel calls by EU capitals for a partial or even complete halt of Ankara's accession negotiations before the end of the year.

EU leaders are set to find the issue on their plate at a summit in December, with every single member state - including Cyprus - able to veto the opening or closing of any new chapter in Turkey's EU talks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event Agenda for 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels