Robert Harneis –TDO-(FRANCE) To a background of increasingly venomous exchanges between German Chancellor Merkel and President Erdogan and his ministers, The EU’s head diplomat sought to calm the atmosphere. She once again stressed that Turkey was not just an applicant for membership but an important EU partner. It is clear, never the less, that for her it is the partnership that is the priority at the moment.

She stressed that Turkey’s European Union membership accession talks would continue, ‘We are continuing to talk with Turkey,’ Mogherini said in the northwestern Slovenian town of Bled, where she came for the 2017 Bled Strategic Forum.

She underlined that Turkey remains a partner in the region in many different areas and is still a candidate country. ‘So, we will continue talks, it will be up to the internal discussions we will have and most of all to the discussions we will have together with them to define the future of our relations’. She added, ‘We do not always agree on everything. There are some issues … that are taking our positions very much apart, but talks continue,’ she added.

She noted that despite having some issues in which the work between the two sides grew difficult, the ‘dialogue continues, work on admission negotiations continues’.

‘We might have an internal discussion in the European Union as they might have an internal discussion in Turkey on whether this will change,’ she added, ‘For the moment, this is not the case.’

In remarks obviously aimed at Chancellor Merkel who tends to talk as if she represented all 28 member countries of the EU ‘We always focus on EU-Turkey relations in the context of accession negotiations, and this is understandable. And sometimes we tend to forget that Turkey is a key player in a region that is strategically important for us: The Middle East, the Mediterranean,’ said Mogherini.

She added that Turkey is a country ‘with whom we are working on some files that are fundamental strategic both for us and for them, from counter-terrorism to the Cyprus issue to Syria.’

Looking ahead until after the Sept. 24 elections in Germany, Mogherini said: ‘On the future, I would suggest that we look beyond what is said in electoral campaigns both in Turkey and the European Union. And I am looking forward to the moment we sit together at the table and find what is going to be future of our relations.’

The statements followed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her center-left rival Martin Schulz speaking of Turkey policy in a televised debate Sunday night, with Schulz making a surprise proposal to halt Ankara’s EU membership talks and freeze its pre-accession funds.

However, as Schultz is well aware, should the EU actually go ahead and freeze funds it would surely unleash another politically embarrassing wave of refugees into Europe from Turkey.

Turkish ministers sought to turn the tables on the ever politically correct Germans accusing them of ‘populism’, ‘islamophobia’ betraying ‘fundamental European values’ by threatening an end to accession talks with Turkey.

Chancellor Merkel exposed the fundamentally false position of the EU on Turkish membership when she said ‘I can’t see admission happening’ adding significantly ‘and I have never believed it could happen’.

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