CONFUSED RELATIONS BETWEEN TURKEY AND THE EU CONTINUE




Robert Harneis –TDO-(FRANCE)  After several months, German members of parliament have been permitted to visit the Konya NATO air base. This despite the angry exchanges between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Erdogan.

President Erdogan had urged Turks in Germany not to vote for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD) or the Greens, as they were ‘enemies of Turkey.’

Merkel on Sept. 3 said she would seek to end talks on Ankara’s accession to the European Union, drawing an angry reaction from Ankara.

In July to indicate its displeasure with the Turkish government Germany withdrew its troops from the Incirlik NATO base used by the coalition in the campaign against ISIL.

The German visit was finally arranged through the good offices of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Technically the visit was not organized by Berlin but by NATO headquarters in Mons Belgium. This made it possible for a member of the Die Linke party to enter Turkey. Die Linke is accused by the Turkish government of supporting the Kurdish workers party (PKK).

At the same time The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sept. 9 urged citizens living in Germany and those who will travel to the country to be cautious and refrain from political discussions ahead of the Sept. 24 federal elections.

In a written statement, the ministry said the political atmosphere in Germany was under the effect of increasing far-right and even racist discourses as the campaign was based on an anti-Turkey stance and efforts to obstruct its EU accession bid.

Ankara said there was ‘discrimination’ against Turks ‘on the basis of their political views’, which has led to ‘verbal attacks against some of our citizens.’

The ministry also added that Berlin was ‘embracing terror organizations,’ namely the outlawed PKK and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.
 
‘Turkish citizens who live in, or who plan to travel to, Germany should be cautious and act prudently in cases of possible incidents, behavior or verbal assaults of xenophobia and racism,’ the foreign ministry said.

Meanwhile within the EU voices have been raised rejecting the German Chancellors anti-Turkish rhetoric. According to Reuters Finland and Lithuania spoke out against breaking off the talks for Turkish accession. ‘No, we should continue the process and engagement. It’s not easy but we have to value contacts,’ Lithuania’s Linas Linkevicius told reporters. ‘By stopping, by cutting, we will ...encourage them even more to go away. I think the effect would be the opposite than what we’d wish.’

EU entry talks, no matter how protracted, had long been seen in themselves as a stimulus to Turkish democratic reform; but EU officials see a change in recent years with judicial independence and freedom of speech in peril in the aftermath of the 2016 attempted coup. The Turkish government has made it clear that it believes that the United states and other Western governments supported the coup in the hopes of achieving a new more pliable government.

The EU is now wary of upsetting Erdogan, eager to preserve a deal that stemmed the mass migration via Turkey of people from conflict zones in the tumultuous Middle East.

‘We have to tread very carefully and, while discussing Turkey’s status as a candidate country, we should also discuss the future relationship in all its aspects,’ Estonia’s Sven Mikser said in Tallinn.

He said he did not expect the EU to make any formal decision this year, adding that the bloc needed to cooperate with Ankara on migration and security in particular.

Turkey’s EU relations minister, Omer Celik, is due to join the bloc’s 28 officials for talks in Tallinn later on Thursday.