German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday that Turkey is backsliding on the rule of law and vowed to urge other EU member countries to think about putting an end or suspending Turkish accession talks at a meeting in October, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Following the recent detention of two German nationals in Turkey, Merkel made remarks opposing Turkey’s EU membership on Sunday in a television debate with Martin Schulz, her Social Democratic rival in elections later this month, and signaled rethinking relations with Turkey.
“Turkey is moving away from the path of the rule of law at a very fast speed. … We will also — and I will suggest this takes place at the EU meeting in October — discuss future relations with Turkey, including the question of suspending or ending talks on accession. … I will push for a decisive stand. But we need to coordinate and work with our partners,” Merkel said.
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 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long been accusing Germany of harboring terrorists, while the pro-Erdoğan media claim that Germany is working systematically to undermine the development of Turkey.