Merkel says EU leaders to discuss future ties with Turkey

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German Chancellor, Angela Merkel speaks during the last campaign meeting of the leader of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Lower Saxony and candidate for the upcoming state election on October 13, 2017 in Stade, northern Germany, two day ahead of the snap vote. German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a new regional vote on October 15, 2017, after winning a fourth term with a poor score that has forced her to embark on high-stakes coalition talks next week. Lower Saxony had been forced to a snap vote after the ruling coalition of SPD and the left-leaning Greens collapsed when it lost its wafer-thin majority due to the defection of a single lawmaker. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Carmen Jaspersen / Germany OUT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that EU leaders will have an open debate next week on future relations with Turkey, but would not take any formal decision.

According to Deutsche Welle, Merkel said in an online video that “we will certainly not make any decisions, but I would like to hear my colleagues’ opinions as to how they see bilateral relations with Turkey, and what conclusions we can potentially draw from them.”

The EU’s heads of state and government are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Oct. 19-20 for a planned European Council meeting.

Merkel came under enormous pressure from her rivals ahead of the Sept. 24 elections to suspend Turkey’s EU membership talks amid recent tensions.

She promised last month to discuss the future of EU-Turkey ties with other European leaders, but also underlined importance of maintaining dialogue with Ankara.

Merkel said during a televised debate earlier in September that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union — Turkey’s largest trading partner with which it has a customs union.

She said she would talk to Germany’s EU partners to reach a compromise on ending Turkey’s accession talks with the bloc.

Berlin’s relations with Ankara have been strained by Turkey’s crackdown on government critics after a failed coup last year. Germany and its partners in the European Union say the crackdown undermines democracy.

Turkey and Germany are also at odds over Berlin’s refusal to extradite asylum seekers Turkish President Erdoğan and his government accuse of involvement in the botched coup against him.

Germany has been angered by Turkey’s arrest of around a dozen German citizens, including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who has been held for more than 200 days.

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