German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that European Union leaders should decide what to do about Turkey’s EU membership application – whether or not to suspend or end membership talks with Ankara at its summit next month. Speaking in the final debate ahead of the 24 September general election, Ms. Merkel said the EU leaders should talk about the issue at the EU summit next month, as any open disagreement would only bolster Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
“Relations with Turkey are of great importance. I will therefore advocate for us to adopt decisive actions but that we act jointly and talk with our European partners. Nothing would be more astonishing than if we in Europe publicly fall out over how to deal with Turkey in plain sight of President Erdogan. This would dramatically weaken the European position and I can only advise against this,” Mrs. Merkel said.
Martin Schulz, who is Mrs. Merkel’s main opponent, said in a television debate that he would end accession talks with Ankara if he became Chancellor. Chancellor Merkel was at first more careful in her response but towards the end of the debate she said she was also supportive of ending the membership talks. Her comments, however, prompted EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas to emphasize that such a decision was not for Germany alone to make.
Mr. Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin reacted to the comments made in the debate by saying that “it is not a coincidence that our President Erdogan and Turkey were central to yesterday’s debate between Merkel and Schulz. Attacking Erdogan-Turkey, in a fashion disregarding Germany and Europe’s main and immediate problems, is a reflection of the narrowing horizons in Europe.”