• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Germany compromises over Turkey EU bid

The Local · 25 Jun 2013, 07:06

Published: 25 Jun 2013 07:06 GMT+02:00

Because of Ankara's massive crackdown on a wave of anti-government protests, Berlin last week blocked a plan to reopen Turkey-EU membership negotiations that were to take place in Brussels on Wednesday after a three-year break.

The row over the issue dominated talks between the bloc's 27 foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where only Austria and the Netherlands rallied to the side of Germany, which finally said it would seek a compromise.

But German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stressed that Berlin was trapped between a rock and a hard place.

"On the one hand we cannot act as if nothing had happened in the last days," he said. "On the other hand we have to look for a strategy that satisfies the EU's long-term interests.

Westerwelle said he had submitted a compromise proposal to Ireland, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, "that reflects both aspects."

A diplomat said the German idea was to offer Turkey a political agreement this week to open a new phase in its accession negotiations with the 27-nation

bloc but set back the date to begin the talks in the autumn.

Last week's sudden German stance triggered an immediate surge in tensions between Ankara and Berlin, with sharp words exchanged and each calling in the other's ambassador for explanations.

At stake is an EU offer to Turkey to agree to open a new policy "chapter" - or set of rules and regulations - in Ankara's eight-year negotiation process to win membership of the bloc.

Turkey began accession talks in 2005 but so far has agreed with the EU only one of 35 chapters needed to gain entry into the EU club.

Westerwelle said he had had talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the weekend and that he hoped to use the Luxembourg talks "to find a common position with our European partners."

Reopening Turkey's long-stalled bid for membership by discussing Chapter 22 on regional policy requires unanimity between the 27 member states, and as is often the case the ministers went into the meeting poles apart.

"Germany is working on a compromise concerning the opening of Chapter 22. Westerwelle is in close contact with numerous European partners and Turkey on the margins of the Council (of ministers)," a German government source said.

Asked whether the EU should change policy after the Turkish government's harsh crackdown against protesters, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said: "No. The European Union is a strategic entity that pursues strategic policies. We are not guided by the short-term things now and then."

Story continues below…

"Accession is one of the most successful, one of the most profoundly important policies of the EU that has brought peace and stability to the continent. It is not something subject to short-term whims," he added.

Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said it was vital for the EU to maintain relations with Turkey while clearly criticising the crackdown on the protests.

"We need to think less about the government than about the Turkish people," he said. "Millions of people in Turkey hope that the EU continues to put pressure" on the government and therefore talks should not be blocked.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on arrival at the talks that "engagement is a better option."

AFP/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
No injuries after blast near Bavarian migrant centre
A sign at the Zirndorf migrant centre. Photo: DPA

A suitcase packed with aerosol cans has blown up near a migrant centre on the outskirts of Nuremberg, causing no injuries, police confirm.

Not your average student digs: 'amazing' plastic bubble
Photo: DPA

Could this wacky experiment be the future of student housing?

Police settle train violence over smelly feet
Not the feet in question. Photo: Caitlin Regan/Flickr

A fellow passenger's foot odour proved too much for one traveller to stomach.

How Berliners are responding to the Bavaria attacks
Photo: DPA

Is fear of terrorism creeping up on the capital?

Munich gunman was far-right racist: media reports
Photo: DPA

According to research by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the Munich gunman was proud to have been born on the same day as Hitler and hated Turks and Arabs.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach bomber ‘influenced’ by third person: officials
Photo: DPA

Officials in Bavaria have said that the man who blew himself up in an apparent Islamist attack on Sunday was influenced by an as yet unknown person.

What is the link between the attacks in Germany last week?
Police on guard in Munich. Photo: DPA

And how likely are 'copycat' attacks?

Rights experts call for calm after string of violent attacks
Bavaria has called for soldiers to protect the German border. Photo: DPA

Human rights groups and legal experts are warning the government to react responsibly to the attacks and rampages which have taken place in Germany in recent days.

France church attacker had been arrested in Germany
Photo: DPA

A neighbour described the man as a "ticking time bomb".

Dutch join hunt for German terrorists-turned-outlaws
From left to right: Ernst-Volker Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: DPA.

Dutch police on Tuesday told people to be on the lookout for three German far-left militants, at large for decades and suspected of a string of recent heists.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,756
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd