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Merkel says EU-Turkey ties ‘severely hit’ by Erdoğan’s actions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech on Europe at the Bundestag, the German lower house of parliament ahead of a EU summit in Brussels on April 27, 2017 in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday told Britain not to have any "illusions" that it would have the same rights as an EU member after it leaves the bloc. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that EU-Turkey relations have been severely hit by actions taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in the past several weeks.

Addressing the German Parliament on Thursday, Merkel said, “Developments over the past weeks have severely hit German-Turkish ties, as well as European-Turkish relations,” according to a report by Agence-France Presse.

Underlining that Ankara’s arrest and treatment of German newspaper correspondent Deniz Yücel was “incompatible with a constitutional state,” Merkel warned Turkey to respect civil rights.

She said it was “neither in Europe nor Turkey’s interest” for either side to turn away from the other and urged both sides to “work towards returning to dialogue.”

Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish journalist for Die Welt, was arrested in February on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Voicing her concerns that an April 16 referendum on expanding Erdoğan’s powers was not held under fair conditions, Merkel said she would also use a summit with fellow EU leaders in Brussels on April 29 to discuss “appropriate measures” for the bloc to take regarding Turkey.

Ankara’s relations with Germany and other European countries have been strained due to these countries’ refusal to allow Turkish ministers to conduct campaign rallies before the April 16 referendum in Turkey.

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