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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid