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Merkel sees no decision on Turkey at EU summit

October 14, 2017

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German politicians have pressed for a tough stance on Turkey. But an EU summit next week may not deliver an immediate response.

Erdogan walking away from Merkel after a press conference in Hamburg
Image: picture-alliance/POP-EYE/B. Kriemann

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she does not expect a decision on Turkey's EU accession process next week at a summit of European leaders in Brussels.

Merkel had said ahead of last month's German elections that Turkey's morbid EU accession process may be put on hold in response to the country's autocratic trajectory and repeated clashes with Europe.

"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," Merkel said in an online video released Saturday.

Read: Turkey-EU relations: Which countries are for and against Turkish accession?

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EU brushes off German's call to end Turkey's membership talks

Infografik Haltung zur EU-Mitgliedschaft der Türkei ENG

Economic sanctions

Merkel has advocated for punitive economic measures targeting Turkey, including halting talks on a new EU customs union, ending EU aid payments and restricting export credits.

The harder German position comes in response to dozens of German and German-Turkish nationals being arrested as part of a massive crackdown following a failed coup bid in Turkey in July 2016.

The number of imprisoned people was among the reasons Berlin gave in requesting a report from the EU Commission on the situation in Turkey.

"There are a great number of cases of people who, in our view, have been wrongly imprisoned, and because we are very concerned about the political developments," Merkel said.

The EU report is expected to present a bleak picture, putting pressure on the EU to take some sort of action against Ankara.

Dundar: EU-Turkey refugee deal a 'fiasco'

In an interview with the Südwest Presse newspaper published Saturday, a prominent Turkish journalist-turned-activist living in exile in Germany urged the government to take a harder line against Turkey.

Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, called on Germany to end an EU refugee deal with Turkey that he said has only emboldened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Tough refugee deal between EU and Turkey

"The refugee deal with Turkey is a major fiasco. It has awarded Erdogan leverage that he hasn't earned," said Dundar, who faces espionage charges in Turkey for publishing a story on Turkish arms shipments to jihadi rebels in Syria.

Under the refugee deal, the EU has provided billions of euros in exchange for Turkey taking back refugees and better monitoring its border with Greece. A part of the deal promised that the EU move forward on Turkey's EU accession process.

If the EU cancels the refugee deal with Turkey, then "Europe could more easily respond to the anti-democratic practices in the Turkey and finally impose economic, political and legal sanctions, which at this point nobody believes it will do," Dundar said. 

German politicians weigh in

German political parties from across the spectrum are also calling for Germany to take a harder stance on Turkey, an issue that was a key point in a pre-election debate between Merkel and her Social Democratic Party challenger Martin Schulz.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a foreign policy spokesperson for Merkel's Christian Democrats, said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper on Saturday that it should be determined whether Erdogan's "clan" holds assets in Europe. He suggested that, if necessary, some of these assets could be frozen.

Greens politician Omid Nouripour, whose party could take over the foreign minister position as part of coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives, suggested Germany restrict arms exports to Turkey over the deteriorating human rights situation.

Green party co-chair Cem Ozdemir, who is of Turkish origin, is a likely pick for foreign minister. A sharp critic of Erdogan, an Ozdemir-run Foreign Ministry would likely take a more vocal position on Turkey.

cw/sms (epd, dpa)

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