Turkey further away from EU membership than ever: German FM
BERLIN - ReutersTurkey has never been less likely to join the European Union than now amid a nadir in relations between Ankara and Berlin, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel published on March 18.
“Today, Turkey is definitely further away from becoming a member of the European Union than ever before,” Gabriel said in the interview.
He also said he always had doubts about whether Turkey should join the EU but found himself in the minority in his Social Democrat (SPD) party.
Before taking power in Germany in 2005, Chancellor Angela Merkel was an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s membership and instead called for a “privileged partnership.” Gabriel disliked that idea because he thought it would make Turks feel like second-class Europeans but he said his opinion had changed since Britons voted to leave the EU.
“Today the situation is totally different due to Brexit. We’d be well advised to bring about a ‘special relationship’ with Great Britain after its exit from the EU. That will be an important learning process for the EU and perhaps some of it can serve as a blueprint for other countries in the long term,” Gabriel said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is courting Turks abroad for support in an April 16 referendum that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be shifted into an executive presidency.
He infuriated Germany and the Netherlands by describing bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers as “fascist.” The arrest of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel in Istanbul has also infuriated Berlin.
Gabriel said Erdoğan was “taking advantage of a sentiment many people of Turkish origin have in Germany that they are neither accepted nor welcomed.”
He said Germany should avoid reacting in kind to “provocations from Turkey” because that would only aid Erdoğan, “who needs a bogeyman for his campaign.”
He also warned Turkish politicians that they could be banned from holding rallies in Germany if they do not adhere to German laws: “Whoever crosses these lines cannot expect to be allowed to propagate his political ideas here.”