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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



German bid to end Turkey talks not going well

Finland and Lithuania have gone against Germany on halting Turkey's EU talks, while others want to wait for German elections before taking a position.

 

"We know there are problems with human rights in Turkey, but I'm not in favour of cutting the negotiations because … if we don't talk to each other this is not a constructive way forward," Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini said in Tallinn on Thursday (7 September 2017).

 

Linas Linkevicius, the Lithuanian foreign minister, said: "No. We should continue the process and engagement. It's not easy but we have to value contacts".

 

"By stopping, by cutting, we will ... encourage them [the Turkish authorities] to go away even more [from EU values]," he said.

 

Soini and Linkevicius spoke at the start of a foreign and defence ministers meeting held as part of Estonia's EU presidency.

 

They spoke after German chancellor Angela Merkel and her main contender in the elections, former European Parliament head Martin Schulz, said the Turkey talks should be abandoned due to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian rule.

 

The German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, who hails from Schulz's centre-left SPD party, reiterated that position.

 

"Mr Schulz only expressed the reality that Mr Erdogan has created," Gabriel said.

 

He was backed by Austria's foreign minister, Sebastien Kurz, who said: "It's been known for a long time that I'm in favour of breaking off the talks with Turkey".

 

The Netherlands and Sweden criticised Turkey, but wanted to wait after the German election on 24 September 2017 before taking a stance.

 

Bert Koenders, the Dutch minister, said he agreed with Merkel that talks on upgrading an EU-Turkey customs union should stop right away, but he added: "For the rest, we'll have to see what happens, because I expect further discussion on this after the German election."

 

Sweden's Margot Wallstroem said Turkey must not abuse Interpol, the international police agency, for "political reasons" after Erdogan used it to go after a journalist and a novelist while they were in Spain.

 

She added that Turkey's EU bid remained "up for debate", however.

 

Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said there should be an "intensive dialogue" on Turkey after the German vote.

 

Maltese foreign minister Carmelo Abela said the EU needed to maintain "excellent bilateral relations" with Turkey no matter what happened to its EU bid.

 

Estonia's foreign minister Sven Mikser said: "We have to tread very carefully".

 

The French minister did not speak out, but French president Emmanuel Macron told a Greek newspaper earlier on 08.09.2017 that he was wary of pushing Turkey away.

 

Andrew Rettman

 

Source: https://euobserver.com/enlargement/138936

 

 

 

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