Germany says up to Turkey to decide on EU membership

Relations between Berlin and Ankara have been strained this year.

Germany says up to Turkey to decide on EU membership

World Bulletin / News Desk

Germany's foreign minister on Tuesday said it was up to Turkey to decide whether to advance its bid on joining the European Union, as he voiced Berlin's "serious concern" at the crackdown after the failed July 15 coup.

The purge, which has seen over 35,000 people arrested and journalists as well as some MPs put in jail, has raised questions over the future of Turkey's accession effort, which dates back to the 1960s.

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after talks with Ankara with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu that he did not support halting accession talks with Turkey.  

"The question of whether Turkey goes closer to, or further away, from Europe is not a decision for Europe or the European capitals but should be made in Turkey," Steinmeier told reporters.

"I am for a better relationship," he added. 

Recently Steinmeier criticised Turkey's widening purge in response to the coup bid, saying it should not be used as an excuse to muzzle the opposition.

Steinmeier said his talks with Cavusoglu had "not been easy" and admitted the pair had expressed "divergent views" about the crackdown in Turkey.

But he insisted that Ankara should not see criticism from Berlin as "being lectured or disrespect for its sovereignty", saying it was in the interest of long-term relations between the two sides.

The comments came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the EU to decide by the end of the year on the membership bid, threatening to otherwise call a referendum on the process.

"We do not deserve this (EU criticism), so if we make a decision... we will ask our people and our people will decide," said Cavusoglu, echoing Erdogan.

Steinmeier, who later met the president, said he was "to say the least irritated" by repeated criticism from Erdogan accusing Germany of harbouring wanted Kurdish militants.

Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2016, 17:53
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