BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks with Family Minister Kristina Schroeder during a session of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament in Berlin February 21, 2013. REUTERS photo
Six out of 10 Germans are opposed to Turkey joining the European Union, a survey published on Sunday showed, as Chancellor Angela Merkel
embarked on a two-day visit to the country. Sixty percent of those surveyed in the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag weekly said they were against Ankara
gaining membership of the EU bloc. Thirty percent said they were in favor, the rest undecided.
In addition, 57 percent said Turkey’s growing economic and military strength was a matter of concern for them, with 35 percent welcoming Ankara’s increasing clout. Merkel was due to set off later Sunday on a trip to Turkey that will include a visit to German
troops on the Syrian border, a speech at a Turkish-German business conference, as well as high-level political talks. On Monday, she will meet both President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ahead on the trip, she said in her weekly podcast she was in favor of opening a “new chapter” in Turkey’s bid to join the EU, adding that discussions needed to move forward although she remained skeptical. “These negotiations have stalled a little recently and I am in favor of opening a new chapter in these talks so we can advance,” Merkel said, stressing that “a long path of negotiations lies ahead of us.”
“Although I am skeptical, I have approved the continuation of the membership discussions,” added the chancellor. Turkey’s efforts to join the EU have stalled in recent years and of the 35 so-called policy chapters EU candidates must negotiate, Turkey has opened talks on only 13 since formally applying for membership in 2005.