Germany opposition says Turkey’s EU membership ‘win-win’
ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
Turkish President Abdullah Gül (L) and Sigmar Gabriel(R). AA PhotoThe leader of Germany’s opposition voiced support on Friday for Turkey’s full membership of the EU, describing it as a “win-win” for Ankara and Europe.
“I don’t know at which time Turkey can join the European Union but I know that for the future of the union, it is necessary to have Turkey in,” Sigmar Gabriel, of the Social Democrats, told reporters in Ankara.
“For the future of the EU, cooperation with Turkey is a key,” he said, adding that Ankara’s membership was a “win-win situation for Turkey and Europe.”
Germany, one of the EU heavyweights along with France that opposes Turkey’s membership, has offered a “privileged membership” compromise that falls short of Ankara’s aspirations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on an official visit to Ankara on Monday, said she had concerns over Turkey’s full membership but added that the entry process should be kept on track.
Gabriel said the bloc’s influence would diminish “if we are not able to have Turkey on board.”
But he called on Ankara to reform its justice system when asked about its record of jailing journalists.
“We cannot understand (why) people are jailed because of only their opinion,” he said. Turkey is under fire from the EU and human rights groups over the number of journalists it holds behind bars, tainting its prospects as a candidate nation. Ankara insists no one is jailed because of their profession but due to membership of an illegal organization.