Germany cool to expanding EU membership talks with Turkey

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) waits next to her her spokesman Steffen Seibert. / AFP HOTO / Odd ANDERSEN

As tension between Turkey and the European Union escalates following a vote by the European Parliament to freeze membership negotiations with Turkey, the German government reiterated on Wednesday that it is opposed opening new negotiating chapters with Turkey.

According to a Reuters report, “Chancellor [Angela] Merkel’s position on the accession talks has not changed,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters when asked about a newspaper report that suggested Merkel wanted to stop talks with Turkey altogether.”

The German Bild newspaper reported on Wednesday that Merkel said during a meeting with parliamentary members of her conservative Christian Democrats on Tuesday that she opposed opening new negotiations with Turkey.

“The EU and Turkey have been negotiating for years without determining the result in advance. Under the current circumstances, the opening of further negotiating chapters is not conceivable,” Seibert added.

The European Parliament last week voted 479 to 37 for a non-binding resolution to temporarily halt membership talks with Turkey because of “disproportionate” measures impacting human rights taken in a government crackdown following a failed coup on July 15.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said his country has not yet “closed the book” on the EU, but said Ankara had other options with other partners, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Erdoğan even threatened the EU with scrapping a deal to keep millions of refugees inside Turkey’s borders in return for the promise of accelerated EU membership talks, visa-free travel for Turks in the Europe and financial aid.

Some 125,000 people — including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders — have been purged by the Turkish government over their alleged links to the coup.

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