Merkel opposes opening new negotiations with Turkey on EU accession

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a news conference with Malta's Prime Minister (not in picture) in Berlin on November 29, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that she opposed opening new negotiations with Turkey as part of its quest to join the European Union.

According to the German Bild newspaper, Merkel’s remarks during a meeting with parliamentary members of her conservative Christian Democrats on Tuesday means the discussions with Turkey over its accession to the EU are effectively over.

Citing sources who participated in the party meeting, Bild reported that Merkel recommended spelling that out to voters who asked about the party’s position on Turkey.

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 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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