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EUROPE > German minister’s EU remarks on Turkey ‘unacceptable’

ANKARA / DUSSELDORF

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Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble talks with journalists as he arrives for a Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg, June 20. AP photo

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble talks with journalists as he arrives for a Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg, June 20. AP photo

Turkey should not join the European Union because it is not part of Europe, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said July 3, bluntly underlining Berlin’s opposition to Ankara’s long-running membership bid while prompting an immediate reaction from Turkish officials.

“We should not accept Turkey as a full member ... Turkey is not part of Europe,” Schaeuble said at an election rally in Düsseldorf.

Schaeuble’s remarks are “extremely unacceptable and groundless,” said a senior Turkish diplomat, adding that he was unable to “read either Europe or Turkey” and was unaware of the institutional relationship between the EU and Turkey.

Germany pressed the 28-member bloc to delay a new round of membership talks last week, in response to Ankara’s crackdown on anti-government Gezi Park protesters. Brussels postponed the negotiations until fall, but said the path to Turkey’s membership was still open.

Merkel’s critics have accused her of making a show of her opposition to Turkey’s membership to curry favor with conservative voters before elections, scheduled for September.

Turkey became an associate of the bloc in the 1960s but accession talks launched in 2005 became bogged down in a dispute over Greek Cyprus and opposition from Paris and Berlin.

‘Do not reflect reality’

“These kinds of expressions cannot be accepted, furthermore, they don’t reflect the reality either. The history, the values and the prospect of a common future; these are all factual aspects which prove that a Europe without Turkey is unthinkable, unimaginable,” the senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Hürriyet Daily News today.

“Although the pace is down, still, the institutional relationship is on track, with one more negotiation chapter having been opened just recently. The full EU membership is still a strategic goal for us,” the diplomat said. “I do not know what the basis of Mr. Schaeuble’s assumption is; this is a question which should be answered by him. Yet, one should not forget that such assumptions are not befitting the contractual basis of the relationship between Turkey and the EU and should not also forget the principle of pacta sunt servanda [a principle of international law which means in Latin that agreements must be kept],” he said.

July/03/2013

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