Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined the strategic importance of Turkey for Germany despite persistent political differences between Berlin and Ankara, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“Our political values differ in many areas and yet we have common interests,” Merkel said in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung published on Thursday.
She highlighted Turkey’s important role for a political solution in Syria and in the fight against terrorism as areas where both countries share common interests.
“Foreign policy is always conducted as a mixture of values and interests, and one also needs to find the right balance here,” she said, dismissing criticism by German opposition parties about her government’s Turkey policy.
Asked about Ankara’s stalled EU membership bid, Merkel expressed ongoing skepticism about full membership for Turkey.
“The current developments after the local elections do not make it more likely that Turkey will join the European Union,” she said, adding that she has always been skeptical about full membership but rather favored “special relations” between the EU and Turkey.
However, Merkel also supported the continuation of open-ended accession talks as this was promised to Turkey in 2005 before her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) came to power in Germany.
Turkey’s EU membership process has long been a divisive issue in German politics, as Social Democrats have backed full membership but Christian Democrats favor a special partnership with Turkey.
Ahead of next week’s European Parliament elections, German conservatives and their lead candidate Manfred Weber launched a campaign against Turkey’s EU membership.
Weber seeks to become European commission president, succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker, whose term will end in October.