Germany has been pushing for a postponement of fresh discussions on Turkey’s accession to the European Union, but insists that it is still in favor of the negotiations. The move may see talks delayed until autumn.
Germany has pushed for a new round of talks on Turkish membership of the EU to be delayed in response to the robust crackdown by Turkish authorities during recent anti-government protests.
The clashes between Turkish police and protesters – in which officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets – have so far resulted in four deaths. The government response led to accusations that the security forces had behaved in a heavy-handed manner.
In closed-talks between ambassadors last week, German and Dutch officials expressed “reservations” about the reopening of the talks with Turkey, which had been slated for Wednesday.
The issue also dominated talks between foreign ministers on Monday. Before meeting his counterparts, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Germany was not opposed to the talks going ahead, but that it faced a dilemma.
“On the one hand we cannot act as if nothing had happened recently,” Westerwelle said. “On the other hand we have to look for a strategy that satisfies the EU’s long-term interests.”
While the majority of EU nations were understood to be in favor of the talks going ahead, Austria and the Netherlands on Monday rallied to support Germany.
Westerwelle’s Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger said that Turkey should be given “a certain amount of time in which we can have a look at human rights, freedom of speech.”
Germany was expected to propose a compromise deal at a meeting of EU Europe ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday, which would see the reopening of talks agreed upon, but delayed until October.
Germany’s opposition to the immediate reopening of talks last week were reported to have strained relations with Turkey. Both countries were said to have summoned each other’s ambassadors on Friday to demand explanations for comments that were made.
While Chancellor Angela Merkel had said she was “appalled” by the crackdown on protests, Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis warned of consequences if Germany did not change its stance.
rc/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)