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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid