Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Merkel says EU-Turkey talks are 'open-ended'

Chancellor Angela Merkel made a symbolic concession on language concerning Turkey's EU membership prospects during a visit to Ankara on Monday (29 March) but tensions remain between the German leader and her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking to the press following their talks, Ms Merkel said she now understood that the term "privileged partnership does not have a good connotation in Turkey."

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.

Both Berlin and Paris have peddled the term as an alternative to Turkey's full membership of the EU, something which they vigorously oppose.

Turkey rejects the idea saying it opened accession negotiations in late 2005 on the understanding that it would one day join the Union.

But Ms Merkel did not soften her general message that Turkey's EU prospects are not guaranteed.

"The (accession) negotiations are an open-ended process. We should now pursue this open-ended process," she said, according to AFP.

She also urged Turkey to fulfill a customs agreement with the EU by opening its airports and harbours to traffic from Cyprus, an EU member state Ankara does not recognise.

"The most important issue is the implementation of the protocol ... We have to deal with the Cyprus issue. That would be to the benefit of us all," she said.

Turkey's refusal to implement the customs agreement with Cyprus has resulted in eight of the 35 negotiating chapters that have to be negotiated for EU membership to be frozen. So far, Turkey has open 12 chapters since 2005 and only closed one.

By contrast, Croatia, which started the process at the same time, hopes to become a member of the EU next year.

On another contentious issue, concerning the alleged question of integration of Germany's large Turkish community into German society, the two leaders struck a more conciliatory tone.

Ahead of the meeting Ms Merkel had rejected Mr Erdogan's calls for Turkish language secondary schools. But in Ankara she indicated that such schools could indeed be opened, although she noted that this should not be an "excuse" not to learn German.

"If Germany has German schools in other countries, for example in Turkey, ... then of course Turkey could also have schools in Germany," she said, according to Stern magazine.

With Germany host to around 3 million Turkish nationals, a large number of whom still live in closed communities, integration and what it means to be part of German society have become hot political issues.

Meanwhile, relations between the two sides is also grounded in the fact that they have strong economic ties. Turkey is one of Germany's most important export markets.

European states still top media freedom list

Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland still have the world's most free media, according to Reporters Without Borders, but the overall situation is declining.

Opinion

Let’s not put European public health at risk

Following Brexit, there are many different cities across the EU vying for the coveted prize of hosting the displaced European Medicines Agency, but Copenhagen might just be the perfect fit.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Investigation

Russische schwarze Kassen bedrohen EU Demokratie

Es kostete €11 Millionen Le Pen im Wahlkampf zu helfen aber es kostete die russiche Mafia lediglich €100.000, einen ehemaligen britischen Generalstaatsanwalt zu rekrutieren, um gegen die EU Sanktionen vorzugehen.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  2. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  3. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  4. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  5. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan
  6. Ivanka Trump to meet Merkel at Berlin women's conference
  7. Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in 20 years
  8. Nord Stream 2 to get €4.8bn from European energy firms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. European states still top media freedom list
  2. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  3. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  4. Orban set to face down EU threats
  5. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU
  6. Russische schwarze Kassen bedrohen EU Demokratie
  7. Libya commanders in Brussels for migration talks
  8. Mixed review for EU asylum spots in Greece and Italy