News / Europe

EU Clashes Over Turkish Membership Talks

People rest in Kugulu Park in Ankara, Turkey, June 24, 2013. After weeks of sometimes-violent confrontation with police, Turkish protesters have found a new form of resistance: standing still and silent.
People rest in Kugulu Park in Ankara, Turkey, June 24, 2013. After weeks of sometimes-violent confrontation with police, Turkish protesters have found a new form of resistance: standing still and silent.
Reuters
European Union ministers clashed over whether to revive membership talks with Turkey on Monday, with several countries joining Germany in arguing it would send the wrong signal to reward Ankara after a crackdown on protests.
 
The objections of Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and others make it likely that the EU will cancel or postpone talks scheduled for Wednesday, raising new doubts about whether it will ever be admitted to the European club.
 
The EU had planned to breathe new life into Turkey's EU ambitions on Wednesday by opening a new chapter, or policy area, in its EU membership talks - the first opened since 2010.
 
But Germany is blocking the plan over Turkey's handling of anti-government protests that swept cities after police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a demonstration against  redevelopment of an Istanbul square. Two weeks of clashes with police have left four people dead and some 7,500 injured.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (left) talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (center) and Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski during a European foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, June 24, 2013.German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (left) talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (center) and Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski during a European foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, June 24, 2013.
x
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (left) talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (center) and Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski during a European foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, June 24, 2013.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (left) talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (center) and Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski during a European foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, June 24, 2013.
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger signaled strong support for Germany's stance when he arrived for an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
 
“We are waiting for signals from Ankara that they are really going to give people in Turkey their rights. They have to think about the behavior of their police...There has to be some movement from Turkey before we start negotiations on a new chapter,” he said.
 
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu discussed the issue in Qatar at the weekend and held more talks by phone on Monday.
 
“We are in constant touch. Our position is very clear and we are making our views very clear to everyone,” a Turkish official said.
 
Westerwelle also said Germany was in negotiations with Turkey and in talks with its European partners. “On the one side we cannot ignore what happened in the last few weeks. On the other side we have to be aware of our responsibility in our long-term relationship with Turkey,” he said.
 
Turkey and Germany became embroiled in a diplomatic row last week after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was appalled by Turkey's crackdown on protesters.
 
EU ambassadors discussed the Turkish issue briefly on Monday morning but reached no conclusions and ministers were also making soundings on the sidelines of the foreign ministers' meeting, EU sources said.
 
A spokeswoman for Ireland, current holder of the EU presidency, said no further discussions on Turkey were scheduled but Wednesday's round with Turkey had not been canceled.
 
A senior Turkish official told Reuters last week that a decision by the EU not to open the new chapter would “draw a strong reaction from Turkey.”
 
Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper quoted a senior Turkish diplomat last Thursday as saying Ankara could suspend negotiations with Brussels altogether if the new chapter was not opened this week.
 
Germany's hardline stance is causing alarm among some European policymakers who think the correct response of the EU to the Turkish protests should be to engage more with Turkey to support civil rights rather than moving away.
 
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a supporter of Turkish EU membership, said the bloc had a long-term strategic approach to enlargement that was not subject to “short-term whims''.
 
“There are always things happening in different countries. We can't change the strategy of the European Union just because there happens to be nervousness in one quarter or the other,” he said.
 
Analysts see electoral considerations as playing a role in Germany's position. Merkel's conservatives oppose Turkish EU membership in their manifesto for September parliamentary election. Delaying talks could help them politically.
 
Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at London's Chatham House think tank, said the Turkish government was in a “very prickly and combative mood” and was likely to respond to an EU snub on the talks by suspending political contacts and meetings with EU institutions, and possibly recalling its ambassador.
 
Turkey opened negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying. The talks have advanced at a snail's pace. It has provisionally closed just one of 35 chapters or policy areas. It has opened a dozen more chapters but most of the rest are blocked due to disputes over the divided island of Cyprus or hostility from some EU members.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid