Turkey reacted angrily on Monday to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s declaration on Sunday that Ankara must not join the European Union.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman accused German politicians of surrendering to populism after Merkel said she would seek to end talks on Turkey’s accession to the EU.
“Attacking Turkey-Erdogan and ignoring Germany’s and Europe’s fundamental and urgent problems are a reflection of a lack of vision,” Ibrahim Kalin said in a tirade on Twitter.
Kalin said this was a “surrender to populism and marginalization/hostility (which) only fuels discrimination and racism”.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since last year’s failed coup in Turkey and Berlin’s strong condemnation of Erdogan following a subsequent crackdown that has seen more than 50,000 people arrested.
In a televised with challenger Martin Schulz on Sunday ahead of elections on September 24, Merkel said it was “clear that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union”.
Merkel said she would discuss with EU counterparts if “we can end these membership talks”, adding: “I don’t see (Turkey) ever joining and I had never believed that it would happen.”
Schulz had also promised to push for an end to Turkey’s EU negotiations if elected chancellor.
Merkel’s spokesman reiterated her stance on Monday.
“The chancellor’s words speak for themselves,” Steffen Seibert, told a regular government news conference in Berlin.
“At the moment, Turkey is not at all in a position to join the European Union. In fact, the negotiations are dormant at the moment,” he said, adding that EU leaders would pick up the issue when they meet in October.
Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said on Monday that any talk of ending his country’s negotiations for EU accession amounted to an “attack on Europe’s founding principles”.
“They are building a Berlin wall with bricks of populism,” he tweeted. Turkey will “keep going with its head held high as a European country and a European democracy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the EU executive said that the actions of the Turkish authorities are making it “impossible” for the country to join the Union.
Quoting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker from last week, before Merkel’s election campaign comment, the Commission’s chief spokesman told a regular news briefing: “Turkey is taking giant strides away from Europe and that is making it impossible for Turkey to join the European Union.”
He stressed, however, that any decision on whether to formally halt the long-stalled membership process would be up to the 28 member states of the bloc, not the Brussels executive.