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We will not beg: Turkey says

20 June 2013

Amid growing criticism over Turkey’s response to nationwide anti-government protests, Germany emerges as one of the EU countries most vocal against Turkey’s EU accession.

Both Germany and the Netherlands are against the opening of accession talks, while the press reports that German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition rejects the idea of Turkish membership in its agenda for the forthcoming German elections.

In turn, Turkey responding in defiance to disturbing signs that its problematic bid to join the European Union, is readying itself for yet more rebuffs and says that it will not beg anyone to join the EU community if it faces further rejection.

In the midst of European criticism over Turkey’s handling of nationwide protests, Germany is at the forefront of efforts to block the Turkish accession process. Germany and the Netherlands have opposed the opening of accession talks between Turkey and the EU on the opening of chapter 22 while a news report said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition rejects the idea of Turkish membership in its programme for the forthcoming German elections.

In response a Turkish Foreign Ministry official has said that, “Turkey sees EU membership as a strategic goal. We do not accept any formula other than that.” 

Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s EU minister, leaving little doubt on the subject, said that Turkey could tell some EU countries to “get lost” if it had to.

The German coalition party’s election programme says Turkey would “overburden” the EU because of its size and economy.  The two conservative parties have long opposed Turkey joining the 27-nation bloc, but have not tried, thus far, to halt the EU accession talks that were initiated shortly before Merkel became chancellor.

The Turkish official said the EU and Turkey had opened accession talks on the understanding that it would lead to full membership of Turkey and added that Germany should have presented its opposition to Turkish accession then.

Merkel, never a supporter of Turkish accession, promoted instead a “privileged partnership,” a hazy  formula that includes some kind of close cooperation with Turkey but falling short of full membership. However, even this phrase is no longer in the German coalition’s election programme.

Germany has become more vocal in its opposition to Turkey’s membership over the past weeks alongside an international wave of criticism of the manner in which the Turkish government handled protests, which first began as an environmentalist sit-in against plans to build a shopping mall on the site of Gezi Park off Taksim Square in Istanbul, and rapidly evolved into anti-government demonstrations across Turkey.

On Monday, Merkel said she was “appalled” at Turkey’s handling of the protests. “What’s happening in Turkey at the moment is not in line with our idea of the freedom to demonstrate or freedom of speech,” she said.

Germany is also reportedly blocking accession talks between Turkey and the EU scheduled for later this month because it believes such a move might be viewed as condoning the behaviour of the Turkish government over the recent demonstrations in the country.

Observers say failure to reach an agreement to open the talks before July, when the current Irish term presidency ends, might trigger a dramatic and negative reaction from Turkey, which has long complained of a lack of progress in its accession process. It is thought that the EU failure to go ahead with the talks might even lead to withdrawal of the Turkish permanent representative at the EU, although officials have declined to publicly address this possible outcome.

The Foreign Ministry official said Ankara was waiting for the results of the talks among EU member states on whether to open talks on Chapter 22. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Turkey will definitely “respond” to a negative decision that could come out of the EU talks in the coming days, although it is not planning any concrete steps on how to respond at this stage. “We don’t know yet whether the German and the Dutch opposition will shape the eventual decision on the talks,” the official said.

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