Tabnak – The diplomatic spat between Turkey and Germany which came to the public arena after the last year’s failed coup against Erdogan government, is becoming more and more complicated. In a latest development, Berlin has vowed to stop the process of Ankara’s membership in the EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to push EU members to consider suspending or ending Turkey’s accession talks, saying Ankara has been abandoning the rule of law.
"Turkey is moving away from the path of the rule of law at a very fast speed," Merkel said in a Tuesday televised debate with her Social Democrat (SPD) election rival before the Bundestag lower house of parliament in Berlin.
Merkel also underlined her government’s determination to do everything in its power to secure the release of 12 German citizens detained in Turkey on political charges, whom Berlin says are innocent.
She warned that anything but a united stance "would weaken Europe’s position dramatically,” while also cautioning that relations with Turkey were "of a strategic nature” and any measures taken by the EU should be "determined but also carefully considered.”
Turkey’s ties with Germany and several other EU states have deteriorated sharply this year. Points of dispute have included the barring of Turkish politicians from holding campaign rallies in EU countries ahead of an April referendum, and concerns over the powers granted to Erdogan in the closely fought plebiscite.
For its part, Turkey on Monday accused German politicians of surrendering to populism and urged them to give up their "careless language.” Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik said discussion over "ending negotiations with Turkey is an attack on the EU’s founding values.”
Celik hit back at German politicians using "careless language” and "trying to give orders to EU institutions ... they think the EU is the ‘United States of Germany.’” He added the attitude of some German politicians was to "build a Berlin Wall with bricks of populism.”
On the same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the latest arrests of two German citizens should not concern Berlin. "When we arrest (a coup plotter) Germany starts to get upset. But what are we supposed to do?" Cavusoglu was quoted of saying. "This is also a Turkish citizen but it (Germany) asks why are you arresting my citizen?"
However, it is said that Turkey has arrested some 50,000 people following the failed coup in July 2016. At least 55 are known to be German citizens, 12 of which are being held as "political prisoners," according to Germany's Foreign Ministry.
It should be noted that Merkel’s latest remarks came a day after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc would continue its membership talks with Turkey despite disagreements with Ankara on human rights issues.
Turkey has been trying to accede to the EU since the late 1980s. Formal accession talks began in 2005. The EU has opened 16 out of the 35 chapters required for Turkey to join the 28-nation bloc, but only one of them has so far been concluded.
The talks have effectively been halted since Turkey began a massive crackdown on supposed putschists following an abortive coup in 2016. The EU reacted strongly to Ankara’s purging of thousands of people from organizations and institutions over alleged links to the coup attempt.