Turkish ambassador summoned over Merkel criticism | News | DW | 21.06.2013
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Turkish ambassador summoned over Merkel criticism

The German Foreign Ministry has summoned the Turkish ambassador to Berlin after criticism from a minister against Chancellor Angela Merkel. The comments relate to Turkey's ongoing bid to join the EU.

The ambassador was called following accusations earlier this week from Egemen Baris, Turkey's minister for relations with the EU, that Merkel's "election campaign" was behind stalling in Brussels on the next steps to resuming negotiations on Turkey's EU accession bid.

In response, Turkey also summoned the German envoy to Ankara.

While many EU member states support an opening of negotiations with Turkey, in part because of its growing economy, Germany has criticized the government's response to weeks of anti-government unrest.

Merkel recently said she was "appalled" by the police crackdown, saying on Monday that it "was much too harsh".

Baris alleged that her criticism was linked to September's general election in Germany. "If Merkel is looking for material for her election campaign, it should not be Turkey," he told reporters on Thursday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke, said Baris' comments were "unacceptable." Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who was on a state visit to Kyiv on Friday, had summoned the Turkish ambassador around midday, Peschke said.

"These remarks were met with great disbelief here," Peschke said. "We will make our position abundantly clear."

He stressed that the EU talks were held up due to "technical reasons," which were unspecified, and that there was no link between Ankara's response to the unrest and the EU negotiations, adding that other countries, such as the Netherlands, shared the German view.

Deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter said Germany was not standing in the way of the talks.

"Neither the chancellor nor the government are questioning the accession process in any way," Streiter said. "We are not talking about 'whether,' just about 'how' to continue the accession process."

jr/ipj (AFP, Reuters)