Germany to EU: Do not end Turkey talks
Germany on April 28 urged fellow EU nations not to end membership talks with Turkey because the country is key to European interests.
Austria has led calls for the negotiations to be ditched, saying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has violated the basic EU rule of law and democratic norms candidate countries must put in place.
Other member states have been reluctant to call time on a key NATO ally seen as vital to Europe’s security.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his government was “strictly against breaking off the accession talks.... It would be the completely wrong reaction.”
“In NATO, we did not even exclude Turkey even during the times of military dictatorship [there],” Gabriel said as he arrived for an EU foreign ministers meeting in Valletta.
The Turkish foreign minister was due to join them for a session on relations with EU candidate countries.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he would be seeking clarifications from Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the hope of establishing a way forward.
However, should Ankara introduce the death penalty -- a red line for many member states -- that would immediately end all prospect of Turkey joining the EU, he said.
In March last year, the European Union signed an accord with Turkey to speed up the accession talks, along with visa liberalization and billions in aid in return for Ankara halting a flood of migrants, mostly from Syria and Iraq, coming to Europe.
Erdoğan and top Turkish officials have repeatedly warned the deal could be scrapped because of the lack of progress in the membership talks.
The president also warned that he would review relations with the EU as a whole after winning a referendum this month.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz repeated his call for the accession talks to be halted and told his EU peers to make their minds up.
“I consider it completely wrong if we hold up this fiction of an accession [to the EU] as Turkey moves away even further from Europe every year,” Kurz said.
“We need finally a clear decision,” he said.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini refused to be drawn, saying the meeting would be a good opportunity for member states to review the situation after the referendum in Turkey.
“I think we need a serious, in-depth, frank and serene discussion,” she said.