German FM Gabriel says Turkey-EU membership negotiations ‘nonsense’

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German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel (Vladimir Shtanko / Anadolu Agency)

Calling negotiations between Turkey and the EU “nonsense to a large extent,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has blamed the estrangement between Turkey and Germany on Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.

Following the recent detentions of two more German nationals in Turkey, Gabriel said the negotiations between Turkey and the EU are “nonsense to a large extent,” while he did not support ending EU membership negotiations with Turkey.

Erdoğan is trying to give the impression that the Germans and Europeans are alienating Turkey’ yet in reality Turkey is incredibly rapidly moving away from the EU, Gabriel said.

According to Gabriel, Erdoğan is looking for an enemy outside the country to cover up internal conflicts and has chosen Europeans, particularly the Germans, as the enemy.

After two more German nationals were detained for political reasons, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz reiterated their opposition to Turkey’s EU membership.

According to Merkel, there is no legal basis for the detention of German nationals in Turkey. “That’s why we need to react decisively here,” she said, adding that the government would “perhaps have to rethink” its relations with Turkey.

Earlier, Germany had signaled that there would be no extension of Turkey’s participation in a customs union with the European Union amid issues of democracy in Turkey.

In the run-up to the elections in Germany, the opposition parties urged Merkel to issue an official travel warning for Turkey. Most recently, the German foreign minister said Germans could be arrested in Turkey even during a vacation on the grounds that the owner of the hotel in which they are staying is accused of ties to the Gülen movement.

Turkey has been undertaking a massive purge against real and perceived supporters of the Gülen movement.

Against such a backdrop, Merkel indicated a change of tone with Turkey during a business event in the southern city of Nuremberg, noting that Germany had already fundamentally revamped its relations with Ankara. “Given the latest events, perhaps it is necessary to rethink them ever further,” she said.

Turkey’s President Erdoğan has long been accusing Germany of harboring terrorists, while the pro-Erdoğan media claim that Germany is working systematically to undermine Turkey’s development. Germany hosts around 3 million immigrants of Turkish descent.

Turkey is a popular vacation destination for German tourists.

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