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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs