Turkey’s EU minister says Merkel damaging EU credibility over Turkey

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Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs Omer Celik speaks during a joint press conference with British minister of state for Europe and Americas, after their meeting in Anakara on August 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of damaging EU credibility by trying to dictate policy towards Ankara, after Merkel said there would be no expansion of a customs union or deepening of EU-Turkish ties.

According to Reuters, Çelik said during a news conference in Ankara on Thursday: “We should emphasize that no EU member should give orders to EU institutions or EU processes. These situations are very dangerous, they represent statements that harm the EU’s credibility.”

Çelik also called recent remarks by Merkel on the customs union “unfortunate.”

On Wednesday Merkel said the European Union cannot continue expanding the customs union with Turkey unless tensions with Turkey ease.

Merkel’s remarks came during an interview with four high-profile YouTube stars as part of a campaign for the prime ministerial elections.

The German government asked the European Commission to suspend preparatory work on negotiations with Turkey for modernizing the EU-Turkey customs union because it would send the “wrong signal” to Turkey in light of recent events.

We will not exert extra efforts to continue the customs union agreement with Turkey,” added Merkel.

Relations between Turkey and European Union countries deteriorated sharply after a series of disputes linked to Turkey’s crackdown in the wake of last year’s failed coup attempt, in which 249 people were killed.

Tensions with Germany are particularly acute because Turkish authorities detained several German nationals including a journalist and a rights activist. Germany is also withdrawing forces from Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase after Ankara restricted access to German politicians.

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