The German and Turkish foreign ministers have met to defuse diplomatic tensions over Turkey's EU bid. The two countries had summoned each other's ambassadors after Germany criticized Turkey's handling of civil unrest.
Germany's Foreign Ministry announced that Guido Westerwelle (right in photo) had met his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu (left), on Saturday at the Friends of Syria meeting in Qatar. The ministry reported the atmosphere as "constructive and friendly," with Westerwelle and Davutoglu discussing matters including Turkey's relations with the European Union.
Westerwelle had called the Turkish ambassador to Germany on Friday "due to remarks from Turkish officials toward Germany," according to a spokesman. In response, the Foreign Ministry in Ankara immediately announced plans to send for the German ambassador.
Turkey accuses Germany of impeding EU accession talks held in Brussels on Thursday. EU member states failed to reach the necessary consensus on opening a new negotiating chapter with Turkey next week, which could have marked an upswing in ties.
Turkey's EU Affairs Minister reacted angrily to that news from Brussels. "If Merkel is looking for material for her election campaign, it should not be Turkey," Egemen Bagis told reporters on Thursday. It was that comment that got the ambassador summoned.
Chancellor Merkel and other German politicians this week criticized the Turkish government's handling of more than two weeks of public protests in Istanbul and other parts of the country. Even before the demonstrations, and the sometimes violent police response to them, issues like the divided island of Cyprus and the treatment of Turkey's Kurdish population were major stumbling blocks to eventual EU accession.
mkg/msh (AP, dpa)