World Bulletin-News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that assimilation was a crime against humanity as he had stated in Germany two years ago.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Erdogan said that "assimilation was the permutation of the values of humans. At times, this is permutation of religion and culture. At times, assimilation is putting pressure on individuals to leave aside their customs and traditions and such a behaviour happens to be a crime against humanity. It is impossible for me to change my thoughts on what assimilation is".
Erdogan's comments on "assimilation" came after he was asked if he still thought assimilation was a crime against humanity as he stated in Cologne two years ago.
"German help on EU accession"
Turkey's bid to enter the European Union must not be allowed to slow down, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, highlighting Ankara's increasing frustration with the speed of accession talks to the club.
"The process must not slow," Erdogan told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding the EU would have to keep its promises and calling on Germany for help.
"We are decisively continuing with this process of accession negotiations, especially where they are about international and regional relations," Erdogan added.
Touching on Turkey-EU relations, Erdogan said that he reminded Merkel that the EU should fulfill its promises made to Turkey.
I believe that Germany, with its special relations with Turkey, can set up a positive example to other EU states by liberalizing visa procedures for the Turks, Erdogan said.
Merkel said talks were on track but the result remained unclear. "(Turkey's) accession talks are taking place and the process continues. The process has an open result," she said.
The EU Commission is finalising its annual report on how Turkey is progressing on EU requirements. An impasse over Cyprus, an EU member that Turkey has refused to recognise, will be seen as the main outstanding problem.
Merkel said both sides on the divided Mediterranean island -- the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots -- would have to move to break the impasse. "Where a problem must be solved, both sides have to move," she said.
When a journalist said opening of new chapter headings were prevented because of political reasons, Merkel said talks were underway with the Greek Cypriot party to overcome the problem.
Merkel said she would travel to Cyprus in January to offer Germany's help.
Turkey, which straddles Asia and Europe, started formal membership negotiations with the bloc in 2005.
Erdogan also said. " I have asked the support of Germany in Turkey's fight against the terrorist organization and to strengthen our joint struggle platform against the terrorist organization."
Turkey and Germany will also cooperate closely on fighting terrorism and the two interior ministries have founded a commission for this purpose, Merkel said.
Ankara, the EU and the United States brand Turkey's rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a terrorist organisation. The PKK launched an armed campaign against the Turkish state in 1984 for a Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey.
"Assimilation not on the agenda of the German government"
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that assimilation was not a matter that was on the agenda of the German government.
Merkel said it was important that Turks living in Germany should learn German, adopt values of German society and noted that Turkish youngsters, particularly who had to drop out of school, had to be given equal opportunities.
Merkel said integration of Turks to Germany as well as bilateral and economic relations were discussed in her meeting with Erdogan. "We also discussed preparations of G-20 and NATO summit and took up Cyprus issue," she noted.
Merkel said she invited Erdogan to CeBIT information fair scheduled to take place in Hannover city of Germany. Turkey will be the guest country of the fair on February 28.
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Turkish dailies on Friday cover the top court decision to uphold former armed forces chief Basbug's appeal, which paved the way for his release, and Prime Minister Erdogan's statements during a private TV broadcast Thursday night.