Angela Merkel won a landslide victory in the recent German elections, increasing her party's seats by 61 and overall share of the vote 7 percent. She was so close to forming a single party government -- a rare occurrence in Germany. Tying the record of winning three consecutive elections -- something only Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl were able to do after World War II -- undoubtedly makes Merkel the strongest leader in the European Union. However, her having gained greater legislative power in the elections is not good news for the already worsening relations between Turkey and the EU. Merkel is not expected to change her position vis-à-vis Turkey's full membership; she will remain opposed to it. The opening of Chapter 22 in its EU bid is also unlikely.
Angela Merkel, picked by Forbes Magazine as the second-most influential figure and the most influential woman in the world, won a landslide victory in the recent elections in Germany. She even just barely missed the chance to form a single party government, a rare occurrence in German politics last realized by Adenauer in 1957.
This makes Merkel the strongest political leader in the European Union. Merkel's star began rising in particular after the financial crisis in 2008, which undermined the image of many European leaders. While the whole of Europe -- including France, a prominent member of the EU -- experienced serious economic problems, Merkel consolidated political and economic stability in her country. References are no longer made to Germany and France as the dual engines of the EU. It is not possible for Brussels to take any action without Germany's consent.
Merkel, one of the most ardent supporters of the austerity plans to deal with the economic crisis in Europe, has become an object of hate in Greece, Portugal and Spain; her negative attitude with respect to Turkey's EU membership has made her an undesired figure in Turkey as well. It is no secret that there is no chemistry between Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Merkel, who has been promoting a privileged partnership in the union for Turkey since she assumed office in 2005, is a fairly consistent politician. Like her predecessor Kohl, she states she likes Turkey but wants it out. Her victory in the elections is not good news for Turkish-EU relations, which are already experiencing hard times.
Even though she needs a partner to form a coalition government, Merkel is not expected to change her position vis-à-vis Turkey's membership in the EU because the election results can be interpreted as indirect support for her Turkey policy. If she would prefer a larger coalition, forming it with the social democrats and giving them control over the Foreign Ministry, then no further deterioration would be expected in her policy vis-à-vis Turkey; however, if the coalition is made with the Greens, she may want her party to retain control over this ministry.
According to İsmail Ertuğ, the only German member of the European Parliament of Turkish origin, Merkel's growing power is not good for Turkish-EU relations. Noting that Merkel is fairly honest on her policy toward Turkey, Ertuğ has said that Germany's attitude will not change and that there will be no miracle even if she forms a coalition with the social democrats or the Greens.
What will be the fate of Chapter 22?
Chapter 22 was expected to be opened in June after a three-year suspension of negotiations, but they were once more put off because of the German elections. In an unprecedented move in its history of enlargement, the EU decided to open the chapter but to hold off on talks until after the issuance of a progress report that will be announced on Oct. 16.
Ertuğ is not hopeful that Chapter 22 will be opened after Merkel's victory. He said that even though it is too early to say for sure, he does not expect negotiations on the chapter to begin. Ankara, on the other hand, asserts that no pretexts remain given that the German elections have now been held and it expects negotiation of Chapter 22 to begin at a meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for Oct. 22.
Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış, stating his resentment of the obstacles placed before the negotiation of Chapter 22, reminded Merkel of the fate of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who used Turkey as a tool for propaganda in his election campaign. Bağış said, “The fate of Sarkozy, who relied on this strategy before, was not so good.” However, his prophecy did not come true this time.
CihanLast Mod: 24 Eylül 2013, 22:59