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Turkey Worried About German Elections

DW staff (tkw)
May 24, 2005

Germans are not the only ones whose fates lay in the balance of early federal elections. With the conservatives in power in Berlin, Turkey would lose a staunch supporter of its bid to join the EU.

Not best of friends: Angela Merkel and Turkish Premier ErdoganImage: AP

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül responded to the news of a fall federal ballot by saying that a victory for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) would not have an impact on his country's aspirations to join the bloc.

"Hopefully, we will start the (accession) negotiations on October 3," Gül told reporters at Ankara airport before flying to Sweden for a NATO gathering. "Any change in this is out of the question as long as we fulfil our obligations, and we are fulfilling them meticulously."

Erdogan und Schröder, Flaggen
Schroeder and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage: AP

Whilst Gerhard Schröder and members of his red-green ruling coalition have repeatedly made plain their support for Turkey becoming a member of the elite European club, the CDU's leader and Schröder's likely challenger, Angela Merkel, makes no secret of her belief that Turkey is simply not ready to be drawn into the European fold.

The CDU instead proposes a special status, described as a privileged partnership, but the suggestion is unacceptable to Turkey.

Possible impact

A Turkish government spokesman, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, conceded that "the coming to power of this or that party can sometimes have an impact on such issues," but said that Turkey should concentrate on the reforms required to join the European bloc.

"As long as we elevate our democratic standards and improve our economic development, some obstacles that we are facing today will disappear by themselves," Cicek said after a cabinet meeting.

Abdullah Gül in Brüssel
Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah GulImage: AP

But the stock market responded with a 4.5 percent tumble to the news that Ankara stands to lose the support of the German government.

Although Abdullah Gul has stressed that a Germany under Angela Merkel would not necessarily alter the course of the country's destiny, there are concerns in the country that a French "no" vote in the referendum on the European constitution next week could cloud the planned opening of Turkey's accession talks at the start of October.