POLITICS > Merkel, Erdoğan duel over Cyprus for EU bid


German Chancellor Angela Merkel offers guarded support to Turkey’s EU process, but Berlin and Ankara agree to disagree on the issue of Cyprus

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Visiting German Chancellor Merkel (L) holds a joint press conference with Turkish PM Erdoğan after their talks in Ankara. Merkel reiterates that she is hesitant on Turkey’s full membership in the 27-nation European Union. DAILY NEWS photo/ Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Visiting German Chancellor Merkel (L) holds a joint press conference with Turkish PM Erdoğan after their talks in Ankara. Merkel reiterates that she is hesitant on Turkey’s full membership in the 27-nation European Union. DAILY NEWS photo/ Selahattin SÖNMEZ

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed support yesterday for reviving Turkey’s flagging EU talks yet butted heads with Ankara on the deadlock surrounding Cyprus.

“We need Turkey’s progress on the implementation of the Ankara protocol. Otherwise, the number of negotiation chapters that can be opened will be limited,” Merkel said alongside Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but the latter said Ankara wanted to suspend the protocol until an embargo was lifted on Turkish Cyprus. Merkel also called for greater freedom for journalists and religious groups in Turkey.

Merkel reiterated that although she was hesitating on Turkey’s full membership in the EU, Germany wanted Turkey to continue its negotiations with the union.

If one chapter could be opened at the moment, that would be a step, Merkel said. Asked if Turkey would implement the Ankara protocol following the elections in Greek Cyprus, Erdoğan said the two issues were different.

Turkey would like to contribute to a solution in Cyprus if the new leader of Greek Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, is agreeable to such a move, Erdoğan said. “Of course, there is Greece’s responsibility as well.” The Ankara protocol must be adopted in Parliament to take effect, Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey had taken some steps in line with this understanding but had not yet secured an end to the embargo on northern Cyprus.

“Turkey wants to make an agreement with all EU member states in the framework of goodwill and is willing to boost trade with them,” he said.

EU member states decided in 2006 not to open eight chapters in Turkey’s accession negotiations and suspended the conclusion of the remaining chapters in process on the grounds that Turkey had failed to fulfill its responsibilities stemming from the “Additional Protocol” to the Association Agreement, which, Brussels says, stipulates that Turkey must open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes. In response to the EU, Turkey says the EU should first end its blockade of Turkish Cyprus. Erdoğan thanked Merkel for the German Patriot systems deployed in Turkey as part of NATO cooperation. “We care about the support to Turkey in the context of NATO. Turkey has been a reliable partner for Germany since Cold War times,” Merkel said.

Germany wants religious groups to be able to practice their activities freely in Turkey, in Germany and everywhere, she said, adding that she would meet with representatives of religious groups in Ankara. “I’ll do my best to clarify National Socialist Underground killings,” Merkel also said in reference to the group that killed eight Turks and two others in a series of racist murders.

Merkel said she also discussed the new judicial package with Erdoğan. “I told him that we want journalists to work freely in Turkey and that there be shorter periods of detention. Mr. Erdoğan offered cooperation with us. We’ll be in contact about rough justice,” she said.

Issue of jailed journalists

Asked about jailed journalists in Turkey, Erdoğan reiterated the Turkish government’s stance that the number of arrested journalists due to their journalistic activities did not exceed “the number of fingers on one hand.” The reason journalists have been arrested is not their articles, but “attempts to stage a coup … keeping illegal arms, or being a member of terrorist movement.” He also said Turkey’s judiciary was independent, as it is in Germany. “The judiciary is not subordinate to the executive,” Erdoğan said.
Earlier in the day, Merkel held a meeting with President Abdullah Gül during which the latter underlined the importance of the continuation of Germany’s support for Turkey’s EU entry within the framework of the “pacta sunt servanda” (agreements must be kept) principle, according to a statement posted on the webpage of the Turkish presidency.

For her part, Merkel told Gül that the multidimensional relations between the two countries had been diversifying each day on the basis of friendship and their long-held alliance.


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cezer "çapulcu" skonore

2/26/2013 9:33:19 PM

She says one thing and her foreign minister says something else.


2/26/2013 8:48:14 PM

Bipolar EU leaders first have to fulfill their promise to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, since the Turkish Cypriots voted Yes, while the Greek Cypriots voted No. They lost their credibility by rewarding the ones that voted against the Annan plan and punished the ones for the plan backed by the EU. Yes Turkey's (air)ports will be opened for South Cypriot planes and ships the moment, EU opens it's (air)ports for ships and planes from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.


2/26/2013 5:46:09 PM

Firstly, Greeks rejected the UN plan that met most of their own demands. Second, troops there are a vital part of TC economy and will remain so as long as embargo is in place. Third, the ball has been in EU and Greek court since 2004 after the ILLEGAL membership of Greek Cyprus to EU. It is embaressing of course that a visiting dignitary has to bring up jailed journalists and freedoms.

Hakan Haksever

2/26/2013 3:38:29 PM

Dear Angela Merkel, please take your EU membership and stick it where the sun doesnt shine, so worried about Human rights are we? what about the isolation and embargoes still in effect 40+ years later on the TRNC placed on it for protecting themselves against ethnic cleansing courtesy of the GC? , yet still she fights for them. I do wish she would sod off back to Germany. The EU is a corrupt badly managed nightmare that will bite its own backside sooner or later, i just hope im there to see it.

mr who

2/26/2013 1:02:34 PM

Just remember the Australian part aboriginal held down by five people and one came out of the blue and kicked him and they gave them their nation.

OZman Cometh

2/26/2013 11:45:56 AM

The internal Cypriot border has been one of the most peaceful in the world. Make it permanent and absorb it as another vilayet of TR and job done. The people who accuse the AKP in meddling with the judiciary are the same coup loving military intervention supporters, and we know how they did with human rights and personal freedoms. TR is big enough now to standup to outside pressure so EU pffft.

Chris Green

2/26/2013 11:43:47 AM

There is no question of Turkey closing her permanent garrison in Northern Cyprus. Furthermore, unless and until the inhumane embargoes are lifted, not so much as a Greek Cyp rowing boat or a butterfly should be permitted to use ports etc. Professor Michael; annexation by Turkey of northern Cyprus has been on the cards for years, indeed it was actually mooted by Denktas as an option years ago and remains to be so today. The new TRNC aid package announced gives more control to Ankara anyway!

Optimist 23

2/26/2013 10:39:41 AM

As long as Edogan continues to do what he did so far he will get what he always got from the EU, a delay. Solve your human rights problem - Journalists in prison- your Kurd issue and a step towards Cyprus and the doors to EU membership but also the hearts of Europeans will be open to welcome TK.

Erol Asim

2/26/2013 10:19:47 AM

Peter, that would have happened if the Greek-Cypriots vote yes to the Annan plan. The military force would have been eventually reduced to a double digit presence similar to the Greek army whom also has a presence.

kibrisli TURK

2/26/2013 10:13:59 AM

They say one thing & will do another. There is no more room for concessions on the Turkish side in regards to Cyprus issue. The steps must be taken by the Greek side which have wholeheartedly rejected any peace proposals & along with EU policy has left Turkish Cypriots isolated from the world for so long. Enough is enough! Freedom to Turkish Cyprus!!!
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